University of Toronto

Innis Alumni & Friends

Rita Chen

Class of 2004 – Innis

Innis Alumna, Rita Chen, has been able to travel the world while working in the industry of International Education. Her current role as Partner Relations Manager for IDP Education Pty Ltd requires her to develop international recruitment strategies for Canadian University and Colleges. Over the course of her career, Rita has been able to put into practice the leadership, organizational, and teamwork skills that she learned during her undergraduate experience at Innis College. 

In a few words, please outline your career path.

I have been entrusted with various, growing spheres of responsibility during my 10+ years in international education.

Following graduation, I departed Canada to work for GEOS Language Corporation in Japan. I spent two years as an English Language Teacher before being promoted to Assistant Teacher Trainer / Subteacher at Head Office.

After four years at GEOS, I was encouraged to apply for a position with the North American branch of the company (GEOS North America). I interviewed with the Regional Director there and was offered a position as Regional Marketing Coordinator for the 12 language schools in Canada and the US. While at GEOS North America, I had the opportunity to live in Montreal, Frankfurt, and Seoul, and to travel to countries in East Asia, Southeast Asia, and South America.

I worked with GEOS North America for four years before being recommended for a position at IDP Education Pty Ltd’s newly opened Toronto office. I started off at IDP as an Operations Support and Office Manager before being promoted to my current role as Partner Relations Manager.

As Partner Relations Manager, I am currently involved with developing the business line through the signing of recruiting agreements with Canadian university and colleges; assisting with the marketing / student recruitment strategies of institutions; and acting as a liaison between our Canadian client institutions and IDP global network offices.

Why is it important to recruit international students to enroll at our Canadian institutions?

His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston speaks of the diplomacy of knowledge and the importance international education plays in bringing the world together. By helping students achieve their dreams and providing opportunities for the exchange of culture and knowledge, we are in turn making the world a better, more tolerant place.

An additional, more pragmatic reason for recruiting international students is that they can help bridge the student enrollment gaps caused by a declining domestic population. Putting concentrated efforts into the recruitment of international students will also in turn help promote Canada as a study destination and build brand awareness for Canadian institutions.

What are some of the difficulties you face in your role?

The most profound challenge I face lies in the fact that the use of a student recruitment agency, such as my company, is still quite new amongst Canadian institutions. This presents a variety of difficulties including overcoming institutional concerns that an agency will compromise the institution’s admissions policies and recruitment strategy, and that an agency will recruit students using dishonourable or misleading methods.

How did your undergraduate experience help prepare you for your career?

My undergraduate studies (in East Asian Studies) helped prepare me for my career in international education by teaching me about the cultures, histories, and languages of other nations. The ability to draw upon my understanding of a country’s language, society, and cultural norms has proven very useful in my work with international students, institutions, and stakeholders.

In addition to my scholastic studies, I was also heavily involved with extracurricular activities, including the Innis Residence Student Council, the Innis Residence Electronic Communications Committee, and the Innis College Charity Fashion Show. I was, and still am, able to apply the leadership, organizational, and teamwork skills acquired from these activities throughout the course of my career.

What is the most important lesson you have learned during your career?

All conflicts and issues, no matter how difficult, are opportunities to build relationships and improve upon existing skills.

What is your favourite memory from your time spent at Innis College?

I have a lot of wonderful memories but I think my favourite has to be from fourth year – I was still living at Innis Residence and my RA (Residence Assistant), suitemate, and I would meet every month to chat about our futures over graham crackers, chocolate, and tea.

Do you have any advice you would like to share with current Innis students?

I have two pieces of advice:

  • Never underestimate the power of human relations and networking. I have been exposed to many opportunities thanks to the recommendations of friends and industry colleagues.
  • Put 100% of your effort into everything you do. People do notice and it goes a long way.

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