mercredi 30 octobre 2019

My Internship Experience at CERN

Amine Riad Remache, a graduated computer systems engineer from Ecole nationale Supérieure d’Informatique (ESI), 2019 promotion, and currently doing a master’s in computer Vision at Université de Paris (previously known as Paris 5 - Descartes)

Why did you choose CERN?

In my opinion, the question would be “why not”, at least, that’s how I see it now, and to be more clear, I will explain how it led to this and start with “THE TURNING POINT: Summer 2018 and The Hajj Hackathon experience.

Before this, I’ve never been outside the country and didn’t have any experience other than the events I attended or organized with CSE (Club Scientifique de l’ESI), but the Hajj Hackathon experience changed me, and probably a lot of people (especially Roaa winning the 3rd place ). That was in the beginning of August, and in September, I got accepted in Canada’s biggest hackathon: Hack The North, where I probably spent more time on the plane than on the event. This is what they call the “Snowball effect”, because when get on the rails, everything you do at point A, will help you get easily to point B, and that’s what happened in November, when I got accepted for another hackathon, this time, in a place I could never have imagined I’d visit at some point : Oxford University, attending OxfordHack.

At this point, you gain enough courage to face any application form for any opportunity, and to get back to our main subject: I had the chance to apply for CERN a year before (2018), but I didn’t do it because I saw it as something that would never happen, just because I always thought less of myself, but now I’m glad I did apply for this year’s edition, and I thank god for being accepted.

Before going to CERN, I had little knowledge about it, except for general information you could find on the internet. I never knew what a “particle accelerator” or “what the different LHC detectors like ATLAS and CMS, would look like”, and having the chance to be there and see them with your own eyes, is something you cannot describe.

What did you learn during your internship?

So to start, I will describe the program since it’s not an internship only, but you have also some lectures for fundamental physical concepts they deal with at CERN, to help you get familiar with the vocabulary used there.

There are 2 separate programs, yet quite similar, the only difference is that one of them is for Computer Science students only, and it is restricted to 40 student called CERN Openlab Summer Student Program, while the other program is the CERN Summer Student Program that groups students from different fields such as physics, engineering and CS students, and they picked less than 300 out of 4568 applicants around the world for the 2019 promotion.
I was a part of the 2nd program, you can apply for both, but since they happen simultaneously, even if you get accepted in both programs (because if I’m not mistaken, it’s not the same selection committee), you have to pick only one. I will give some more details later.

My internship part consisted on making a Python version of the current probing tool for the disk storage system used at CERN called EOS, and send the availability status to Snow
to be used later by the dashboards (Grafana or Kibana).

What is the added value of this program in your career and life?

It is so unfortunate that I didn’t keep a journal of thoughts, because I wouldn’t know from where to start now, and maybe to give you a version of me that was still living that experience, I invite you to watch my presentation Optimization of EOS SLS & availability probing scripts, and see how I was.

For the life aspect, I would say that it helped me discover the very different cultures that exist, I knew people from the borders of Russia to Latin America, and you see how we share a lot of things too. Moreover, it was a kind of “european-life-internship” for me, because I had to get familiar to this model since I was going to pursue my studies in Paris after that.

For my career, having CERN in your CV is probably a good thing, and my network has grown and expanded a lot, to cover more industries and profiles. The project I did was very helpful, because I had the chance to see a language that I’ve been using before, from another perspective, and take every chance I had to improve my knowledge.

What kind of challenges did you meet? 

The funny thing is that I’ve been asked the same question at the end of my presentation that I showed you before, and I didn’t know how to answer the question “what were the challenges”.

Personally, I think that one of the challenges was to get used to the vocabulary used, actually, the two vocabularies: Physics & IT department. Since my project was an IT project, I had to deal with new, and internal technologies that are used only at CERN, on the other hand, during lectures, and since I didn’t come from a physics background, I couldn’t tell what the professors were saying most of the time if I didn’t “google” it.

Another challenge was the work/life balance, because I was trying to take advantage of my weekends by going on trips, but I had to make sure to get enough rest, to keep up with the work during the weekday, plus I had to cook for dinner and tomorrow’s lunch (it was a choice I made, you can always buy cooked food).I know that it is typical, but when it’s your first days in a new environment, it’s not that obvious to maintain a high rhythm.

Maybe another thing is that sometimes you feel that you are not productive, at all, and when this happens, you have two choices: either you keep waiting for “an energy rush” to help you pass that point, or you actually do something about it, and for me, it was to write down a plan, even if you won’t do anything productive that day, but at least it will give you a feel of control, and you will at least have a starting point the next time.

Another challenge, that wasn’t specifically faced by me, but is good to mention, the integration process: Since we are coming from different countries, English is the common ground, but for me, knowing French, was a big plus, because in my team there was many cool French guys, and we bonded from day-1, plus, in Geneva, the official language is also French, and it will help you whenever you get lost or need information.

Could you tell us about the application process? 

To start, you need to check this link  Summer Student Programme (Member and Non-Member States), it has a description of the program, qualifications needed (as you can see, there aren’t a lot of conditions), and how you can apply.

Usually, the application form opens during January, then, in my case, I applied on January 26th, and got an answer on March 26th (exactly 2 months), this can give you an estimate of how long it could take.

Then, since CERN is between France and Switzerland, you can apply for one of those VISAs, I applied for the Swiss side, but it doesn’t matter which one you choose, since you can use any of them to circulate. Because, in my case, my hotel was in the French side and CERN is located in the border, at the Swiss side, and technically, you are traveling between 2 countries every day.

For the VISA, I had an appointment at the Swiss Embassy on May 15th ,2019 the VISA was ready by May 28th ,2019(2 weeks).And for the last part, actually “going”, I flew on June 29th ,2019 since the contract was from July 1st to August 23rd.

What are your tips to CERN applicants?

To find CERN opportunities, there’s no place better than “careers” but you need to check the qualifications, since most of the opportunities are for member states citizens only.
My tips may be a little generic, but I think that most people forget or ignore the basics in a lot of things, and that’s what makes the difference.

·         The 1st step is to ask yourself: “Why do I want to go?” This question is crucial, because it will determine whether you will have the best experience in your life, or just 2 paid months of vacation. The intentions are something important, because they will help you stay on the track, and focus on the goals that you came for, but in any case, there’s no shame in having fun and travelling, but it shouldn’t be your main purpose, because you may be taking a place for someone that could’ve been dreaming of it specifically.

·         Picture yourself there already, and even if you don’t make it, at least you had a brief moment of enjoyment applying. I use this trick all the time, and it helps me get motivated.

·         Build a good CV, and for that you need to be “goal-oriented”, and by this I mean, if you think that you are lacking some skills, you need to make a change about that, how ? we call it a development plan, it’s kind of guidelines or a short term specific plan made by you for the next upcoming months, and try to fix aspect by aspect, for example, if you are not good with programming, try to follow an online course/tutorial that builds a project from scratch, and commit to that, and evaluate yourself, on a weekly basis for example.

·         Once there, try to enjoy and discover the CERN facilities, the organizing team may take you to some of them, but it’s your job to try and get access to most of them by yourself, and for that, you need to get to know people who work at CERN, don’t be shy, they don’t bite !

·         Plan your weekends in advance, whether you will go on a trip, or just do your groceries/laundry, try to plan at least 2-3 days before, because on weekdays, you will be busy, and you won’t feel how the days go by, and the weekend will be wasted in your room.

·         If you don’t make it, for sure you won’t be happy, but you don’t need to be upset, if you see the cup half full, it was just the 1.0 version of you applying, may be the 2.0 patch will make it.
Bonus : And since “part of the journey, is the end”, I feel that when you leave CERN, the policy is to “check-out any time you like, but you can never leave!”

I followed Amine Riad Remache on Social Media during his experience at CERN.
I wanted to bring his passion and motivation to Salma Share J
Thank you Amine  for being  my guest today .


vendredi 25 octobre 2019

My Fulbright Experience in USA

Hi, my name is Mourad Yazli, I hold a master’s degrees in Neuroscience from the USTHB. I am the co-founder of the Algerian Youth Voices (AYV), the first online broadcasting radio in English in Algeria, I am also one of the trainers and radio journalists within the AYV.

Due to the interest I have in the English language, I started getting involved in the American Cultural Center as soon as I knew it existed and the more I perfected my language skills, the more my interest in studying abroad grew.

Two years ago, I decided to embrace my dreams and turn them into concrete goals by applying to the Fulbright Scholarship, one of the most prestigious fully-funded scholarships available worldwide and I was selected among other hardworking students who embarked on the U.S. journey to study a professional master’s degree in business at Clemson University in South Carolina.

Why did you choose Fulbright scholarship?

You need to know that there are two kinds of adventures one embarks in: travelling and living abroad. While the premise is a sprint of positive emotions which rush to deliver you with the right amounts of adrenaline, dopamine and all the happiness inducing hormones; the latter, studying and living abroad, is a long marathon in which endurance is required if you don’t want to reach the exhaustion state, yet, it is the ultimate experience to have and the highlight of a lifetime. I decided to dive into the Fulbright Scholarship for all these reasons and more.

The Fulbright is one of several United States Cultural Exchange Programs whose goal is to improve intercultural relations, cultural diplomacy, and intercultural competence between the people of the United States and other countries through the exchange of persons, knowledge, and skills. It is one of the most prestigious and competitive scholarship programs in the world (Source: U.S. Gov).

I also chose the Fulbright Scholarship because aside of being allow you to study, it also opens the opportunity to attend several conferences, be part of host family programs and you get to be the representative of your country abroad. Fulbright scholars are perceived very highly in the United States; therefore, people are more inclined to exchange with you and get to know you and your background. Being fully-funded is yet an additional perk you get to have, especially that studying abroad is a luxury that only a minority could afford.

Which field did you choose and why?

After graduating with my master’s degree in Neuroscience, I started working in the pharmaceutical industry for which I fell in love with. I could finally fulfill my goals of helping others through science and impact people’s lives directly. Having had that scientific background, I learned all the business-related skills I needed hands-on in the field.

By now, a couple of years at work have passed and I needed to acquire more knowledge in regards of business. Fulbright came at the right moment in my career and answered a need I had back then, to deepen my knowledge in Marketing, and although I have studied in a scientific stream my entire life and specialized in Neuroscience, I did not struggle at all switching fields as the Fulbright offers a complementary “Pre-academic training” that helps complete the immersion in the United States and provides answers to the flow of question every grantee has in mind. So, there I was, departing to the U.S. heading to Portland State University for a month-long pre-academic training before I start my master’s degree at Clemson University.

Pro tip: you can pursue any field of study you’d like through the Fulbright Scholarship regardless of your background; nevertheless, you must justify in your personal statement letter why this switch is beneficial to you and give a rationale to it. If you have a clear image in your head about where you would like to land in 2, 3 or 5 years, then you are good to go. You just need to tell this story and embark the interviewers in your narrative. If you sell your story in the proper way, there is no doubt that people would adhere and visualize it, too.

What is the added value of this program in your career and life?

The Fulbright program did not just offer me an American degree from a top 20 public university in the United States, but a life-long adventure to be remembered. I have networked with the most brilliant minds out there, made connections with influential professors and professionals. I have also been part of several conferences and enrichment seminars that allowed me to broaden my perspective on different topics but beyond that, this experience made me realize that multiculturality, diversity and open-mindness towards others cannot be learned through reading books but must be lived to be understood.

What kind of challenges did you meet?

The first challenge you face as an exchange student is the culture shock. The U.S. is unique, in all the meanings that this sentence can hold. Everything is different, and I can promise you that you’ll feel that you have changed planets at a certain point of your journey. If you like American movies, get ready to live in one and if you like adventure, rest assured that you’ll get plenty.

For me, I felt like I was living the proper American life once I attended my first class. The professor presented us with the class material and challenged us about the content, so far it was typical. It started getting less typical when we started debating about a couple of points and I witnessed how the students were challenging back the professor and doubting his perspectives with their own. This definitely surprised me, in the good way of course. My classmates were adorable, since we were a small class of 18 students, we used to hang out after class in smaller groups, eat out whenever we had the chance and made great memories going to the football games, bowling or simply celebrating a pre-thanksgiving and Halloween together.

If I had to list one problem I had (which wasn’t really a real problem), it would be the fact that I missed the Algerian food. I was living in South Carolina and I did not meet a lot of Arabs, let alone Algerians. When Ramadhan came, I felt like something was missing, our food and traditions are not necessarily known, and I had to adapt, cook and teach other about many aspects of our living, some of which, we take for granted and do not imagine ourselves living without.

One of the best aspects that I liked during this adventure was the relationship I had with my host family. Before even leaving Algeria, I got in touch with a non-profit organization that links incoming students with host families. The goal of these hosts is to welcome the student in the city they are heading to, to introduce you to life in the U.S. and exchange about our two countries around dinners or during a hike or whatever activity we enjoy doing together. This proximity allowed me to feel less of a stranger and helped ease the culture shock at first and made me share my great moments with them.

Could you tell us about the post-application process?

As you can see on the U.S. embassy website, the application for the Fulbright program is straightforward. It is necessary that you check every item on the list before you hit submit. Easy right? I would say that the application (including the two required language tests) are the easiest part of the application process. The hardest part follows, and it is: WAITING!

Following the submission, you’ll need to wait until you are contacted by the Fulbright advisor from the U.S. embassy in Algiers. There is absolutely nothing to do passed the deadline and for me, that was even harder than applying or taking language tests.

Once you are contacted, you’ll be asked to come for an interview. The next step if you are pre-selected, you’ll need to wait even more time. While it is very important to stay focused, answer emails very quickly, and be reactive to any request, you have to keep yourself busy because you’ll have no control over the outcome of your scholarship.

 It all depends on:
-          Your application (written and interviews) including the recommendation letters.
-         The budget allocated by the US Department of State of that year for Algeria and the benchmark of your competitiveness vs others.
-     Finally, finding the best fit for you and the program you have selected and detailed earlier. Fulbright advisors in the U.S. will try to negotiate with the universities to get you an additional co-funding or fellowship from the university to reduce the costs of the tuition. If the university offers you financial help, your chances are higher. (but hey, you won’t have access to this information – one less thing to worry about).

What are your tips to 2020/2021 applicants?

First, be prepared. The application process is long, the tests are challenging if you are not used to them. It is of an utmost importance that you are ready for anything that may come your way. You’ll need to be prepared for the TOEEL and GRE, and that means a minimum of 4-6 weeks of preparation since it is not about your English level but merely about how you beat the test and the time.

Finally, be bold in your dreams and make them come to life. Anything you set your mind to, you can achieve, and therefore, you have to believe in yourself so that others will start believing in you. It’s not magic, it’s only hardwork. The only question you should be asking yourself is: Are you up to the challenge?

Very honored to have Mourad YAZLI as my Guest today on Salma Share
I met Mourad on LinkedIn and asked him to share with us his experience
Mourad tells us his story with career shift and studying abroad to inspire each one of us looking for new perspectives in his career and his life.
Thank you so much Mourad for being with us

For more details about Fulbright opportunities, please check Exchange Programs and Deadlines on U.S.Embassy in Algeria website.

Mourad has been selected to The Fulbright Foreign Student Program.
There is also The Fulbright Visiting Senior Scholar Award for Algerian holders a Ph.D. degree to spend three to six months doing research at a university in the United States which is currently open until December 1st ,2019.

vendredi 18 octobre 2019

Being Mentor of Algerian tomorrow’s leaders

Hanane KAOUANE is an electrical and electronic engineering, graduated with Master 2 from the Institute of Electrical Electronics Engineering (IGEE ex: Inelec). She accumulated more than seven years of experience in the youth development industry, where her experiences in the associative field and in social entrepreneurship have allowed her to secure a place at the Algerian Center for Social Entrepreneurship (ACSE) since 2016, as coordinator of "Impact@Work"the first program dedicated to the promotion of social entrepreneurship. Hanane is now the community builder at the first and the only social incubator in Algeria, ACSE UP and the producer for “BINE OU BINE” podcast; the first Algerian podcast 100% in “derja” that aims to inspire youth to go through social entrepreneurship. Hanane is also debating volunteer coach at the British Council in the frame of "Young Mediterranean Voices" program and a personal development mentor in AYLP Nevada, USA 2018. In addition, Hanane is a team building activities' trainer through her participation in the "universities on youth development 2016” program in Spain.


Algerian Youth Leadership Program (AYLP) is an exchange program of 4 weeks in USA for Algerian high school students focused on civic education, diversity & inclusion, leadership, and community engagement.

Why did you choose to be a mentor in AYLP ?

Doctor Todd felt, Assistant Professor and Strategic Communication at the Reynolds schools of Journalism, Nevada always told us that:  “There are only two places where a leader can act: on a balcony or in the dance floor.”

When being in the dance floor; you engage yourself the same way physically, emotionally and socially all at once. Where the symbiosis of dancers’ bodies and the expression created through movement captivates many of us. It can help dancers simply connect to the world around them when they otherwise don’t know how. When in the dance floor, you make connection, with yourself, with your soul and with the persons around you, you even might makes them follow your movements while they are feeling free! Actually this is what the champion of dance used to do in the dance floor! From this quote I notice that,  a leader is a person who influences a group of people towards the achievement of a goal. But a great leader inspires confidence in other people and moves them to action.

However, a leader is not always making people following him/her, sometimes he/she must leave the dance floor and watch people from the balcony. Follow others on their decisions, their choices and only be in the floor when it needed. This actually what a mentor exist for.

I have chosen to be a mentor on the AYLP program for only two reasons. The first one is presented in my first paragraph, which is my opportunity to be in the dance floor and contribute  on building new leaders by creating for them a community where they can clear their ethics, values and vision. Secondly, is to turn those leaders into brilliant changemakers by standing in the balcony and watching them explore.

As a mentor ,what were your duties ?

Mentorships typically involve a mentor and mentees, with clearly defined roles. A mentor is defined as a “wise and trusted counselor or teacher.”   Mentoring consists of a long-term relationship focused on supporting the growth and development of the mentee.  The mentor becomes a source of wisdom, teaching, and support and can play a significant role in an individual’s personal, social and professional development.

When being a mentor on the AYLP program, I engeded all my energy in checking, supervising, watching, and keeping track of. First off all, I used to listen to my mentees, understand their personalities and identify their needs.

Then, I used to provide mentees by advices based on personal experiences and act as a sounding board for ideas and action plans. In addition to giving guidance and identify resources that will help them with personal development and growth, such as recommending books, workshops, inspirational talks and other learning tools.

I used also  to encourage my participants to join networking organizations and introducing them to new contacts. One more point is to provide the tough feedback that mentees need to hear in order to move forward; to push them to take risks when appropriate; to help them to consider and weigh potential consequences of decisions and actions to avoid the pitfalls and predictable surprises that may occur.

 Mentees need to be heard giving them your attention and your time play a big role on their personal evolution. But also leading by example is one of the main responsibilities as a mentor, to be a role model, to be the kind of person that everyone else looks up to and wants to be like. But always keep in mind – even when no one is watching – everyone is watching.

What kind of challenges did you meet?

Being in a another country with 25 Algerian energetic youth aged between 15 and 17 years old for a long period of time is never something easy but it is challenging and scared sometimes. While taking care of a toddler seems challenging and sometimes scaring. But in fact, having as a main responsibility taking care of a group of smart teenagers is more terrifying ! “terrifying” in this part is something positive, How?!  Youth at the age of 15 years old are so smart and intelligent and their intelligence was part of my challenges . Let me explain that!

When you are a mentor, you have some duties and responsibilities that you need to respect them such  as giving advices and feedbacks. So the main challenge I was facing is how should I give them my advices and feedbacks ? Should I need to keep asking them questions till they find the answer them selves? or I should keep giving them personal experiences?

I used to share with them my personal experiences as a way of mentoring by example but in this life we all part of a different games,  Which means it is not necessary that we all play the game with same method. Sometimes when I notice that a mentee didn’t listen to my advice, I start being nervous and worried about the method I give my advices and feedbacks. And thinking about the way I can improved it.

What did you learn from this experience?

Adolescence is a critical step of human growth. It is the process of development from childhood to adulthood. Adolescents experience a significant shift from the simple, concrete, and global self-descriptions typical of young children; to a person based on their values, thoughts, and opinions.

 For this reason, giving advices and feedback something so complecated because teenegars in that age need to make their decisions by themselves but you as a mentor or as an adult you need to make sure that they are not hurting themselves with those decisions. Basing and taking this important point into consideration during my experience in the AYLP, I learn how to react differently.

So, Instead of telling my mentees what to do, I learn how to give them something to think about. By this method gaining their trust, respect and love was an achievement.

What is the added value of mentoring as mentor in your career and life?

When you invest in youth, in their personal development and others, you are not only investing in them, but you are also investing in yourself. Mentoring will contribute in your personal development , your managing skills, your empathy and optimism. .

Investing in something or someone was always taking me much time to see its fruits and feel it. But investing my energy, my time, my knowledge on my mentees; AYLP 2018 participants; was and still something that made me see the results so fast. I saw and I keep seeing this results on their projects, studies , daily life, I can see the results on their succeed. With what they achieved till now, I am seeing little Hanane in everyone of them and I am just feeling proud that my mentees are going to appear in the next generations as real change makers.

As the last word, I would like to say that I am proud of being part of my TEAMILY! AYLP2018 because what I learned from each one in this program, was needed a million of experiences.

I was honored to work with Hanane on Tawjih Mentoring Program :)
Today I feel inspired to read her story like you and share it on my blog Salma Share :)
We believe that mentoring is a powerful tool of learning that’s why we invite you to know what is it and why not implement it in your daily and professional life because being mentor or mentee is a life changing experience J  

If you’re interested in Algerian Youth Leadership Program 2020
Apply as :

*Participants 15-17 years old
And follow Mohamed Foudil 's story on Salma Share

Algerian Youth Leadership Experience

*Adult Mentors
And follow Hanane Kaouane's story on Salma Share

Deadline: November 9th, 2019

Good luck :)