Overall, I would describe the INSEAD Summer School as a work-hard and play-hard experience.
Hendrik Brenn

Hendrik Brenn

Nationality/Passport: Belgian, Dutch Year of graduation: 2023 Current Role: ISS 2023 Participant

Could you share something unexpected about you? 

Even though drill and street rap is the music genre I listen the most to, I also really like to listen to and sing Taylor Swift songs. 

Tell us about yourself, and how you got to where you are today both on a professional and personal level?

I see myself as a grateful and disciplined young adult who still needs to learn a lot about the professional world. I would say my biggest achievements so far are getting into UCL and staying healthy. 

In order to achieve and maintain this, I would say that being grateful for what I have is the biggest factor that helped me getting to where I am today. Because I cherish the life and opportunities I was given, I do not want to lose these, and I want to rather improve them towards the future whether it is for me or for my relatives. This mindset is what gives me the motivation to continue striving for more.

What motivated you to choose the INSEAD Summer School, and how do you envision it aligning with your future goals, even at this early stage?

I wanted to do the INSEAD Summer School for two main reasons. The first one is actually learning (more) about the different topics included in the content of the course, such as leadership and negotiating, through real-life practice with the other students. 

The second one is meeting and interacting with the other students. Since there was a significant threshold to be admitted to the summer school, I assumed that the people who got in would be ‘interesting’ for me to interact with and learn from. 

The cohort was very diverse. Hence, there were many different opinions and perspectives to consider. 

I think that taking in these different perspectives is beneficial for me as I am thinking of pursuing a career in international relations where being able to have a common ground with the other party is crucial.

Tell us about your experience on the ISS – what was a typical day like?

Overall, I would describe ISS as a work-hard and play-hard experience. Most of my days were very long. I frequently woke up early to go to the gym before the lectures started. I really liked to do this as there were many other students who did the same and it was nice to chat and sometimes work out together with someone else. 

The lectures started around 8:45am and ended at 5pm, with a lunch break of course. During the lectures I tried to focus as much as possible, however, this did not always happen as they could be very tiring due to the amount of information presented. 

I always really liked the physical group exercises we did during every lecture, these gave me a lot of energy. In between 5pm and 6pm I usually did the daily quiz(zes). From 6pm to 7.30pm we had another short lecture. These often went by quickly. Directly after these we had dinner. 

After dinner, there were activities planned and I participated in these most of the time. I really liked go the pub in Fontainebleau and playing football.

Any memorable moments that you will take back with you?

There were a few UCL students at ISS. This came in handy as I could connect with them and they gave me tips on how to start at UCL.

What were your impressions of campus life?

Campus life seemed balanced as there are many different things you can do there (e.g. going to the rooftop bar or the gym). So I feel you could pretty easily live a balanced lifestyle just on the campus if you wanted to.

Could you share a little about your application process, and making your way to Fontainebleau?

For the application process, I handed in both the 500- and 300-word statements. In the 500-word statement, I mainly focused on what I wanted to get out of the course and how that would be helpful for the course I am going to study at UCL (Bachelor in Arts and Sciences). In the 300-word statement I mentioned an extracurricular activity I participated in which I thought would be helpful for the summer school.

Any parting words of wisdom?

“Every setback is part of the process, so do not lose the bigger picture when you’re confronted with one.”