CERN Internship Tips and FAQ

CERN Internship Tips and FAQ



In this article, you will find CERN Internship Tips and FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) about the CERN openlab Summer Student Application Process as requested by many of you. I hope it will be useful in some way.

First of all, to get the most correct and up to date info, I would recommend contacting CERN directly. 

CERN Internship FAQ


Q1: How to apply for the program? What are the requirements a candidate must fulfill?

Normally the deadline to apply for the CERN openlab summer student programme ends around 19 February. I recommend you to search for “CERN openlab Summer Student Programme 2019” in the months before that and an application website will exist. (I’m not sure when it opens for applicants, but probably in the start of December).

The requirements are stated on the application website. For the CERN openlab Summer Student Programme, it is for ex. a requirement that you have completed 3 years of study in a related field like engineering, informatics etc when you start the internship. All of this information will be listed on the application website.

Q2: What is the difference between Openlab vs. normal CERN Internship Summer programme?


The CERN openlab Summer Student Programme is made specifically for IT students (and others with a strong computing profile). I would say that this programme may be most relevant for you if you are a computer science student or if you are interested in coding and IT.

The normal summer student programme is more focusing on physics, and you will most likely have a lot of physics lectures (instead of IT-lectures since most of the students are physicists). The visit to Google, ETH etc. is also only for the openlab students, and it is a very nice opportunity and experience!

On the other hand, you can always apply for both programmes and see which one seems the most interesting after the deadlines.

Q3: What specific domains are the projects related to? Specifically, were there any projects related to Data Science and Machine learning when you joined the program in 2017?


The projects are related to very many domains, I remember there were some projects related to machine learning in 2017, so it is most likely an opportunity for that kind of projects in 2019 too. I would recommend you to have a look at the previous CERN internship summer student reports.  There you can see what projects would be interesting and relevant to you and your experiences, as well as see what skills were needed for these projects (Here).

Q4: How did you prepare for the interview(s) if there were any, and does GPA and status of the University matter?


There are no interviews, so the most important thing is to fill out and upload all the documents that are listed in the application descriptions. It is difficult to say how important your GPA and status of your University is for getting selected, but my opinion is that your experiences, interests, and skills are more important.

Make sure to write a detailed answer about your technical projects and skills. It is also important to write a good and relevant “Letter of motivation”, CV, fill out the forms about knowledge and competencies in detail and get a good “Report on candidate”/Recommendation from your professor(s).

Q5: Is there any stipend or any other kind of monetary benefits?


Yes, there is a stipend for each summer student (see the application website for exact amount)

Q6: How is the work culture at CERN?


I really liked the culture at CERN since it was very open and including. Everyone is very helpful and you can basically walk into any office and ask for help and advice and they will be happy to help you.

The atmosphere is also relaxed and people wear t-shirts and not suits and tie. It is also very interesting and motivation to be able to be a part of the very international environment at CERN, and you will make friends and colleagues from all over the world.

I really enjoyed working at CERN and I am sure you will like it too!


CERN Internship openlab Summer Students 2017
CERN Internship openlab Summer Students 2017 (Photo: Andrew Purcell)

CERN Internship Application Tips:

Tip 1: Letter of Motivation

A tip for the application and the Letter of motivation are to highlight why you want to work at CERN.

Here it is nice to answer questions like:

  • Is this something you have dreamed of doing for a long time?
  • How did you first hear about CERN, and why does it interest you?

Tip 2: Interests

For example, you can also briefly mention some CERN projects that you are especially interested in.

Tip 3: Contribution

Also, it is nice to focus on what you can contribute with to the CERN community and what you hope to gain from the experience.

Tip 4: Skills and Experiences

When you are filling out the form for skills and interests I think it is important to give detailed descriptions of what kind of projects you have worked on before.

This can be both projects from school courses, internships or projects you are working on in your spare time. You can mention relevant frameworks, programming languages and other technologies you have experience with.

Tip 5: Summer Student Reports


PS! I recommend you to have a look at the previous summer student reports to see what projects would be interesting and relevant for you and your experiences, as well as see what skills were needed for these projects.


Tip 6: Read Blog Posts on CERN Internships Experiences:

[Read More:] Experiences from the CERN openlab Summer Student Programme 2017

I hope you will get the chance to work at CERN yourself and that this was helpful in some way. 
Fingers crossed, and best of luck with the application process!

Got any questions, comments or feedback?

Feel free to leave a comment in the box below or in the “CONTACT“-section in the menubar.

I’ll be happy to answer!


Rebekka Alvsvåg




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