Do you remember your first day at CERN? Were you excited, maybe a little nervous? So much to do, so much to know, so much to take in… On the first day of each month, new members of personnel join CERN to start a new chapter in their career. The adage “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” holds true: their first impressions are crucial, and can set the tone for the entire experience they will have over the coming months and years. 

In 2018, the HR Learning and Development and Talent Acquisition teams initiated a complete review of how we welcome newcomers. In the past, the comprehensive onboarding experience was dedicated to staff and fellows only, but our Director-General gave us the impetus to redesign the process based on a global concept that would meet the common core needs of all CERN’s members of personnel.

In close collaboration with all CERN departments, the resulting first ‘all-new’ Welcome Session took place on 1 April this year in the Globe of Science and Innovation. Every month since then, tens, and sometimes hundreds, of new staff members, fellows, students, trainees and associates have come together to meet each other and learn more about CERN as an organisation, its culture and spirit in an interactive welcome enabling them to connect and network before joining their respective departments.

Personalities and Portraits,career, onboarding, arrival, welcome session

However, the onboarding journey starts well before the arrival at CERN and continues months after. The Welcome Session is therefore complemented by a comprehensive “Welcome to CERN” website to support newcomers, providing information on what they need to know and what they need to do to prepare. Pascale Goy, Head of Learning and Development in CERN’s HR department, explains: “The newly streamlined and modernised programme experienced by our newcomers today is the result of a brainstorming exercise across the HR department and beyond. Over 50 people throughout CERN were involved in this change process. This project was an enriching experience and probably one of the best ways to delve into the inner workings of CERN.”

Once at CERN, newcomers, alongside new users who have recently joined CERN, are invited back to attend the quarterly onboarding session, where, equipped with their own experience of their first few months, they learn more about all the different facets of the Organization: from an introduction to CERN’s activities, Knowledge Transfer, the Library, clubs, the Staff Association, Education, Communication and Outreach… and more. At the end of this informative and interactive event, they also meet with the DG and Directors.

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