Adding value with Rizza Tongco and the Diversity Whisperers

It’s been a great academic year since our partnership with RBC Future Launch, an initiative from RBC dedicated to helping young Canadians prepare for the job market. One of the 13 schools we partnered with was Red River College in Manitoba. After the completion of several in-class projects, we checked in with Rizza Tongco, a student who worked in a team called “The Diversity Whisperer”, with the European Travel Whisperer, a travel agency in New York, in her marketing class. The interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
June 23, 2020
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Riipen has partnered with RBC Future Launch to help young Canadians prepare for the future of work by providing access to the Riipen platform to a number of post-secondary institutions across Canada. It’s been an incredible year since launching this initiative and being able to see the positive impact these experiences have on students.

We recently checked in with Rizza Tongco, a student of business administration at Red River College in Manitoba. Rizza worked with her team, “The Diversity Whisperers”, to help New York-based agency European Travel Whisperer with marketing strategies. The following interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

What are your thoughts on experiential learning or work-integrated learning?

I think experiential learning is a good way to integrate the theory we learn from the classroom and apply it to an actual situation. As a student, this kind of training is beneficial to us, especially when we go to the real workplace.

Could you tell me a little bit about the scope of the project that you worked on?

I worked in a team of four members and we were asked to think of marketing strategies for the business that we partnered with. Our team worked with a travel agency that is based in New York specializing in custom travel itineraries, specifically for Europe and Africa. 

The owner wanted to increase the number of clients or prospective clients. We were tasked to design business to consumer marketing strategies to achieve her objectives.

Did you feel that this experience was a value add to your education? 

Yes, definitely! With this experience, I gained more confidence that I'll be able to do well in a real workplace because we already performed well in our Riipen project working with a real business. This experience really felt as though we were already in a real workplace. Our team was the employees, our business partner was the owner and our instructor was like a director.

What are the main takeaways that you got from this project?

There were many lessons learned through this experience, but let me give you three. The first takeaway is that I got to appreciate Red River College more. I’m an international student so when I was choosing a college to enroll in, I selected Red River because of its focus on applied learning. With experiential learning opportunities such as this one, I have gained a greater appreciation for the curriculum and course design.

Second, it's fulfilling to conduct complete market research and propose strategies to a real business. Although we eliminated the fact that there's COVID-19 in the scenario, because we were already halfway done with the project, we believe that the proposal that we have made can still be useful for her when she comes back to business.

Lastly, I think the most significant takeaway I had with the Riipen project was getting to appreciate teamwork and diversity more. Each of my team members had different points of view, but what made us productive was that everyone knew how to listen as we shared our ideas and suggestions. I believe all members of my team acted professionally and maturely. We were able to communicate respectfully but also understood that not all of the suggestions could be implemented for this project.

Out of the following tools: Case studies, essays/reports, exams and experiential learning, how would they rank in terms of effectiveness for your learning?

  1. Top of my list would be experiential learning because it allows you to experience a real problem in the real world. 
  2. Second would be a case study because most scenarios are based on real problems that had taken place, but we don't have direct contact with a person and the case isn’t happening in real life.
  3. The third would be essays, papers, or reports. Although this assessment style has benefits such as managing it at our own pace, there is a lower level of learning because it depends solely on the individual and the effort they choose to put in. 
  4. Lastly, I would rank exams as the least effective tool for student learning.

How was your experience working with the industry partner on the project?

I found working with a real industry partner both exciting and challenging at the same time.

This experience was not just about completing a task to finish the course, but we wanted to provide our business partner with quality work and the best possible outcome to add value to their business. I am grateful that our industry partner was very responsive and helpful whenever our team had any questions.

Did you receive any notable feedback from your industry partner? 

Yeah, I would like to share with you the exact statement from her. The owner said:

“I feel that the Diversity Whisperer team did a great job understanding my business and researching the target market. They came up with great ideas to increase marketing efforts and explore new options for my business.”

Receiving this feedback after completing the project was very rewarding as it seems that our industry partner really appreciated the work we did and that it was of value to her.


Thank you to Rizza for taking the time to speak with us and for providing some great insights on her Riipen experience. We hope to provide even more students with the opportunity to gain work-ready skills just as Rizza and her team were able to do.

If you’re looking to start your own project at Riipen, check out the list of our RBC partner schools to explore current opportunities and head over to our website to learn more

About the author:

Yogmaya Singh is a fourth-year Entrepreneurship student at the University of British Columbia, and a Marketing Intern at Riipen. Driven by her need to explore and grow, she's always found herself working within roles that challenge her. She's interested in all things music, enjoys trying new foods and dabbling with art.

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