When Michael Mottola, Vice-President of Technology and Data at Rentsync (formerly Landlord Web Solutions), started his company almost 12 years ago, he knew he wanted to hire local.
Rentsync is a company that provides marketing solutions for the multifamily industry in both Canada and the U.S. The company offers a leading purpose-built rental marketing platform, which includes a content management system (CMS) and ad syndication, giving clients the ability to both showcase and advertise their rental portfolio all from one place.
In addition to its software offerings, Rentsync Studios offers multifamily clients a variety of marketing services, including website design, digital advertising, and lease-up marketing.
Originally based in Thorold, and now based in St. Catharines, it just made sense to bring people onto the team that were from the area. When they were starting out, they needed developers to work on some of the website management projects, so a lot of candidates were coming from Research & Innovation.
“It was important to us to get local talent, so when we were searching, candidates with Niagara College or Research & Innovation (R&I) experience rose to the top. There’s a sense of quality and craftsmanship that shines through with the people we’ve hired from Research & Innovation,” said Mottola.
Over the years, Mottola has counted at least 15 people from Niagara College (NC) that have been hired for technical roles, plus around five more that are working with their marketing department, for a total of about 20.
Five or six of those hires have come directly from Research & Innovation (R&I).
“Research & Innovation stands out, largely, because we’ve had success hiring individuals from there early on. It’s a green flag for us when we see someone who’s worked with R&I because some of those people have become leaders within our organization now,” said Mottola.
It also helps because it shows that the applicant has some practical experience on their resume, and they’ve got training and understand what it’s like to work for and deliver something for a real customer.
One of those people is Alex Gauvreau, who is now the Senior Software Developer at Rentsync.
Alex is a 2017 graduate from the Computer Programming program. During his time at NC, he was employed with R&I as a Research Assistant, working 15-hours a week on various software projects, and was later hired as a Research Associate full-time after graduation.
“Research & Innovation is the best thing at NC because on top of your class work, you’re getting the real-world experience, it gets one foot in the door of industry for your career and helps lead you to success.”
– Alex Gauvreau, Senior Software Developer, Rentsync
During his time at R&I, he worked on software projects and later worked on precision agriculture with Mike Duncan, PhD, and team. He also got an opportunity to become faculty at the College, instructing classes on database design and web-focused courses.
“Beyond the technical knowledge that you pick up (at R&I), working with more of a real-time application, the biggest thing I probably picked up was secondary skills. The ability to effectively communicate, talk to clients and provide project management were important,” said Gauvreau.
He also loved the opportunities R&I gave him to network and attend professional development and industry conferences. “When I was working at R&I, I remember I had a great client called Studio 1 Labs and I got to travel to Ottawa and present on this project, which was a really great experience. I still have relationships with some of the people that I worked with back at R&I, so it’s been fantastic,” said Gauvreau.
When it comes down to it, Michael and Alex both agree that they would recommend any current students to work with R&I if they can when they are at NC. “(We) would recommend people go through Research & Innovation because it definitely helps you be considered for tenancy at any position at Rentsync,” said Mottola.
If you’re going looking to land that first job out of college, it’s not just the hard skills that are important, but maybe more importantly, those soft skills, that will help you stand out to an employer.
Research & Innovation is the best thing at NC because on top of your class work, you’re getting the real-world experience, it gets one foot in the door of industry for your career and helps lead you to success,” said Gauvreau.