Sharing my journey to CERN and career opportunities where science and social science meet
I woke up at 5 am today. Very unusual, but today was special. I had got an opportunity to give a career talk at my school, 7 am European time, 11.30 am Indian time.
I was ecstatic to visit my school again, even if it was virtually, and see some old faces that would remind me of good old days. I had left/completed ( ;-) ) school in India almost 5 years ago and since then never got a chance to visit again. Leaving India was not an easy decision. I had got admission in one of the prestigious colleges called National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) to pursue my Bachelors but perhaps, it was a big jump after loving physics and calculus for so long, even though I knew I was also a creative person. I left NIFT and went on to hunt other colleges to study engineering. But the change from going to a national institute like NIFT to any other college in India was already quite disheartening. All this while, I had the admission letter to a German university where I had got selected. But I didn't have the courage to say yes. My mom, a mathematician-turned-counsellor who mostly stayed at home for her kids, was the only support I had, financially and emotionally. After a few visits to the government banks of India, I decided to take the leap. I completed a year of schooling in Germany after which I opted to study Mechanical Engineering. But amid all these changes and making my own choices, I was still not happy. I loved and loathed physics and I wanted to learn about it with passion but not study it like a physicist or an engineer. Was I crazy?
I had already got admission in Mechanical Engineering as an international student in Germany, and switching courses was not simple. I was told by the authorities to wait until 6 months/one semester in Mechanical Engineering after which I can begin studying any other course of my liking. This wasn't the easiest option for me after coming with limited resources financially. But as they say, when you really want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it. For me, that role was done by my professors. I had spotted a unique course in my faculty that was a blend of Science Communication and Bionics (also a blend of biology and engineering). It was only because of my professors that I was able to save my one semester and change courses right from the start. I have always looked up to my teachers and professors for confiding and such guidance and coming back to my school, virtually, to give a talk to students but also see my teachers was a surreal experience.
To have been able to speak with students in India, and share my mistakes that ultimately led me to find something of my liking, between science and social science, and landed me at a CERN, was an experience that I can only express through my eyes.
Chetna Krishna currently works as a science writer and social media producer at CERN, the largest particle physics laboratory in the world. Chetna actively shares career and internship opportunities where science and social science meet such as at CERN and worldwide that are in the field of physics, journalism, and science communication.