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What does it take?

  1. Nov 20, 2011 #1
    What does it take to get a (physics-related) job at CERN? What about for an undergrad non-physics major?
    I'm already a junior with an AA in Biology and Mathematics, I'll have my BS in both the next few years. After taking Gen. Physics I and 2 as degree requirements I found out that I abolutely adore physics, and have since started doing independent research/projects and even getting a job as a physics tutor and TA at my school.
    My school does not have a physics major but the professors and I are working on bringing more physics-related classes to the university. My specialty is anything related to magnetism (high energy, diamagnetics, etc...) and I have applied for the REU program at the National High Magnetic Field Lab. I also independently study M-theory and anything related to quantum mechanics.
    I'm not saying I have even the slightest chance of getting a job at CERN but I figured if I was going to aim high I might as well go full-on. If I can build up my resume in the next few years I'm probably going to apply for an internship there, even though I do not have one of the prerequisite majors.
    I'd be happy just getting a research job somewhere else, but I really want to work in quantum physics/particle physics/high energy physics/etc. What can I do to improve my chances of working somewhere "good" (per se...) without switching universities? My school is small but I have really enjoyed watching it grow in the past few years and I'm hoping to help bring a physics major to it soon along with my professors.
    Pretty far-fetched goal, but at least if I aim high I'll land somewhere pretty good. Physics grabbed me and has never let go so I can't imagine working in another field and enjoying it as much as I enjoy physics.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 21, 2011 #2
    From what I hear, A PhD from a top Physics school and lots of contacts (it's who you know).

  4. Nov 21, 2011 #3

    I am not very familiar with CERN environment , so I can not give you a proper answer.
    I can, however, try to give you some piece of information from hear-say of unknown validity:
    First of all, things are very different (and easier) if you are a citizen of one of the member countries. So maybe if you tell us what country are you from
    (and your school), people will be able to give you better advice.

    I think that to land some physics job at all, physics PhD is a requirement. Even then, it's nearly like a lottery to get a permanent position. So I think, if you want to stay in physics, you need to get your physics PhD anyway. I do not advice you to focus so much on CERN (it is hard to get any job, not even so specific; plus there are plenty of other great places where you can do physics). But if you do not insist on permanent CERN position, I do not think you should have problem to get a work at CERN (for some time at least). Just enlist in some PhD program in relevant field at some decent university which has teams working with CERN. Of course your supervisor should have connections to CERN. (There's plenty of them in Europe and US.) Bear in mind that physicist who are direct CERN employees are just fraction of physicists doing research at CERN. Most people are employed at participating universities.

    Good luck.
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