Opportunities for students with disabilities

Every year, CERN offers opportunities to students with disabilities in the technical or scientific field in the framework of the Short-Term Internship Programme and the Technical student programme. These opportunities are offered as part of CERN’s commitment to advance inclusiveness and accessibility in the workplace. 
The programme has a valuable, important impact, not only on the students’ future careers but also for the teams at CERN who welcome them, as demonstrated by the many rich testimonials below. If you are interested in taking part in this programme as a supervisor, please contact us: Diversity.Inclusion@cern.ch

Read more about the programme’s background in this Bulletin article (link to follow).


Pawel, Supervisor in IT

In 2019 I was contacted by CERN Diversity Office and asked if I was interested in becoming a supervisor of a hearing-impaired person. At first, I was very enthusiastic about creating an opportunity for such internship. After a meeting with Diversity Office and getting more details I realized that it can be very challenging. How to communicate with such a person? How much time will I need to spend with the person to supervise and help? Will those efforts jeopardize main projects? I realized that it’s never a good time for a challenging opportunity so without further hesitation I agreed to become a supervisor of a person with disabilities. 
During his internship, the student learned new technologies and improved his prioritisation skills. We, as part of his team learned to be more patient and aware about biases towards disabled people. The opportunity created a change in the student’s life as well as in our lives and CERN as an Organization. Working together with people with disabilities on common goals requires to ‘look at the world from a new perspective’, which I consider as beneficial. 

Mathias, Student in IT 

Le programme d’intégration du CERN m’a donné une chance unique de rencontrer des personnes géniales, qui m’ont guidées et appris, au-delà des compétences techniques, un état d’esprit que je m’efforce de continuer à partager. 
Mon stage a été une opportunité unique de démontrer mes capacités, de prendre confiance, et de faire mes preuves, pour mes futures employeurs, malgré mon handicap. 
Grâce à mon tuteur, j’ai pu m’épanouir, prouver mes compétences, dépasser mon handicap, et ce, par le biais du programme d’intégration du CERN. 

Axel, Supervisor in EP 

With an incredibly productive team, its regular open, heated technical discussions and immense dedication, this initiative seemed like a good way for the team to strengthen the human side. At CERN, all of us need to learn to be inclusive: why wait, why not start right here? 
The team was not aware of anyone having special needs, and the student and I decided not to disclose, which is why I will just call him Antoine here. I received some very helpful introduction by CERN's Diversity fellow and HR - and when Antoine started, everything felt very unsurprising. A young intern, first time at CERN, uneasy and shy as we all have been when we first entered the site. Indeed, the briefing by the diversity team helped me in several situations: I felt better prepared also regarding communication and expectation, and was able to recognize patterns that they had described before. 
It was fascinating to see how the team adapted completely, automatically, without any intervention. I even decided to hand over Antoine's supervision to a team member after a couple of weeks, realizing that Antoine might actually benefit from this. 
Asked today I bet the team would just say, "oh Antoine was nice" - and indeed, he integrated so well that people took him as what he was: a productive, smart student. But for me personally, what I'm most proud of is neither that "we made it", nor that Antoine credibly conveyed that he really appreciated his time with us, nor that CERN and the diversity office succeeded with this pilot: it's that the team seems to continuously sense team members' needs and reacts adequately and in a welcoming, inclusive, and inspiring way. 
More of that, please: let's start to actively increase diversity!

Alberto, supervisor in IT

CERN is a fantastic place. When I joined more than 20 years ago I was almost overwhelmed by the number and variety of people, nationalities, languages, cultures that I could meet every day in the office or having meals at the restaurant. The feeling of being part of something special has motivated me during all this time. This is what makes this place work, the richness of its diversity and the many opportunities that it provides to talented, motivated curious students. My experience so far with the programme has just reinforced this feeling. I confess I was a bit worried at the beginning: can I do this? What if I cannot handle the relation? But, I’ve met people with bright minds and great motivation, who not only contribute efficiently to our projects, but sometimes can challenge my established truths by thinking differently. We are all learning from each other and this is what i call doing science”. 

Gabriele, student in IT

I study computer engineering at the Polytechnic of Turin and I'm at openlab as a technical student since April, working at CERN has been 
one of my dreams since high school and I'm excited about this opportunity. At the beginning I was a bit scared because it's my first work experience in the field of computer engineering but all the people I met have always supported me and have been very helpful, even regarding aspects outside of work such as the difficulties of settling in a new country during the pandemic. I think it's the best place for a student like me to take his first steps at work because since the first week I was able to learn and do something concrete and this made me feel useful and part of my team from the beginning. 
Another thing I like is that the topics covered by my group are very varied so I also learn a lot of things outside my field and it is always interesting to exchange ideas with people from different backgrounds.
My personal goal is to work to have an impact on the rest of the team and hopefully gain a lot of skills both on a technical and personal level.

Stratis, Student in EN 

This internship is a dream come true for me. To be part of this research organisation that I have always admired, is a unique work and life experience. I have already gained a lot of experience and knowledge in my field, and my colleagues are very friendly and helpful, which is very important when moving to a new country! The programme for people with disabilities gives the opportunity and the confidence to all of us to pursue our dreams and goals. Working at CERN is also a life experience. I am enjoying the move to a new country, in the centre of Europe, making new friends and coming to contact with esteemed researchers.

Céline, technical student programme coordinator

I really appreciate working for this initiative. We all work together in HR to provide the best experience to the students. I really hope it will encourage more and more students with a disability to apply: you have your place at CERN and we have so much to learn from you. We learn with experience and welcoming students with a disability has encouraged communication between and within teams. I really believe we all grow together and working in an environment where we can be ourselves is so precious!  I really hope this is going to become the norm everywhere and I’m proud to be part of this long adventure, we have come a long way and I did one step of the path, there are still many steps.  I count on all the future students and supervisors to do the other steps in order to look back at one point and realise that we’ve improved all together diversity & inclusion at CERN!