Sander van der Neut

Sander van der Neut – President ESN Board – 2018 / 2019

For this position we’re looking for both full- and part-time applications!

About me

Hi! As 100% born & raised Dutchie, you could find me a strange pick for being President of the Erasmus Student Network. After finishing high school, being barely 18, I went to Seattle in the US to study at a local college since I didn’t knew which study to pursue back home. Luckily, it all fell into place over there and after I came back I subscribed for IBA in Amsterdam. During these years, I went on Exchange to Taiwan (travelled around a bit over there) and since then I’ve never spend longer than a few months away from airports. Finishing up my bachelor, I booked a single flight ticket to Bangkok without a return plan in mind. Luckily for my parents, ESN dragged me back home after half a year. So maybe not such a strange pick after all?

Why a board year?

I was in no rush to start working yet, As ESN being my third ‘gap year’ after high school. I looked around in Amsterdam for a board year, but didn’t identify any board which would give me the same amount of freedoms I have here. I felt that the boards were too much looked up against, instead of them being enablers for the students to thrive. By becoming president, I hoped to give students a home away from home, make an impact on their lives forever, and give them the same unforgettable experience as I had on my exchange(s). Since ESN is such a young and fast-growing organization, there is no set plan for you to follow. Previous boards have left plenty of options open for us and many things are not set in stone. Next to that, I build up a big international network which will allow me in the future to couch surf throughout the world. Lastly, it’s okay to take a risk and fail. As long as I learn from it, the hard & soft skills that I gain through this will last me a lifetime.

Why president?

In Amsterdam, studying was a part-time must do for me. Most of the time I was busy organizing events for either the study association or the ESN section over there (did you know there’s more than 520 sections all over Europe?) I always saw room for improvement and was frustrated by the lack of attention for the students, which are the main reason boards receive their mandate. By becoming president, I aimed to improve this by having the students and active members come first. In advance, I doubted heavily whether or not to apply, but when in doubt I aim to always say yes. Ofcourse, parts of my board year turned out to be different than expected, but that would have been with any decision; in the end, you only regret the steps you didn’t take. This year has brought me new life-time friends, which I wouldn’t have met otherwise.

Function description

As the President of ESN Rotterdam I am in charge of overlooking a rapidly growing international foundation. I am the face of ESN Rotterdam, as well as the leader of a very ambitious and dynamic team. I mostly have a coordinating role and ensure the overall well-functioning of the organization. By doing so, we are able to contribute to the long-term internationalization of Erasmus University, the city of Rotterdam and create impact that will linger for many years.

I provide support to my board members when needed and I lead the weekly board meetings as well as several other internal meetings. As the president, I also give presentations and speeches to audiences varying from 20 to 800 students. In addition, I represent ESN Rotterdam in several meetings with higher education institutes and on different national and international levels within the ESN-network. For this, I travelled for example to Switzerland and Greece during the year. I constantly focus on improving the organization in the interest of the students. Therefore, I take the lead in developing the annual Policy Plan and construct different evaluation and strategy reports.

Apart from the things mentioned above, the work of a president is not very specific nor stable, as a major part of your work is to deal with unforeseen challenges. You never know what might come up! In addition, you are constantly looking for ways to improve the organization as a whole. The best way to do this varies over the years and within different boards. It also depends for a large part on your own vision and abilities, there is no one size fits all solution. Pro-activity, solution-based thinking, intercultural communication and motivational skills therefore play a key role in fulfilling this position. Also because a large part of the board and active members will be from different countries, with different cultural backgrounds

Looking for more information? Click here for a detailed function outline (PDF) Don’t hesitate to contact me by sending an email to I’m always up for a coffee if you have any questions 🙂

For this position we’re looking for both full- and part-time applications!

Life after ESN // Michiel Kuhlmann // 9th board

I still clearly remember the first time I stood in the ESN office with the keys in my hand, the office that would be my home base for the whole year. I went from being a student to being a board member and the campus changed from a place to study to a place to reach students, organize events, have meetings and much more. Being given the responsibility for an organisation and the task of helping hundreds of (international) students feel at home in Rotterdam is something you dive into and which becomes part of your identity.

I’m still amazed by the energy and engagement the (international) students brought, lifting each event up to unique experiences for the students but also for the board and the committees. The international structure of ESN allowed me to attend ESN events abroad which were great learning opportunities, and fun as well! Meeting ESN board members from all over Europe is unique because all of them approach the same tasks differently due to their experiences and cultures.

There’s something irreplaceable about working with your board which creates so many memorable and fun moments together. The satisfaction of looking back at each event fuelled with the energy the students, seeing the organisation grow, the many accomplishments, the gained experience and level of team building makes being an ESN board member a once in a lifetime experience.