A win-win for both Waterloo students and Rogers
Partnership prepares students with real-world experience and fulfills need for new talent
Partnership prepares students with real-world experience and fulfills need for new talentBy Stephanie Longeway University Relations
When Jonah Eisen signed up for the Sportsnet Hockey Hack in his final year of his master’s program, he set his future career path in motion.
Eisen was drawn to the week-long hackathon hosted in collaboration with Rogers Communications because it combined his favorite interests — sports and telecommunications. He saw a chance to gain real-world experience in applying his theoretical research to the 5G wireless network, and it was there that he met Rogers’ director of innovation and partnership, Neel Dayal.
“It was a great experience participating in the Hockey Hack. I remember hearing Neel and his colleague speak at the hackathon and being impressed by the level of engagement that Rogers team creates with its partners,” Eisen says.
After the hackathon, Eisen and fellow participants were presented an exciting opportunity from Rogers to apply to an open employment call with the company. Eisen jumped at the chance and is now a Technology Masters Grad — a full-time position that allows new talent at Rogers to explore their future career interests at the company through four six-month rotations across different units in the organization. And on his first rotation, Eisen had the opportunity to work on Dayal’s team.
“Looking back on my first impression of Neel and Rogers, it’s still surreal to me that I’m now a part of their team.”
For Eisen, the skills and connections gained through the hackathon at Waterloo helped kick start his career after graduation. And for Rogers, it helped the company tap into dynamic, young talent.
In December 2019, Rogers Communications became a founding partner of the University of Waterloo’s Gateway for Enterprises to Discover Innovation (GEDI), a central place for companies to access the full potential of Waterloo’s research, talent and entrepreneurial ecosystem. The Sportsnet Hockey Hack is just one example of how this partnership has taken off and been a true win-win for Rogers and Waterloo students and researchers.
The partnership enabled Waterloo to become one of the first 5G smart campuses in Canada and provides research opportunities anchored in this next-generation network. It also connects Rogers with world-leading researchers and young, dynamic talent to help fulfill the need for skilled employees to lead future innovations.
“At Rogers, we’re shaping the future of 5G technology in Canada, and we need smart minds and new ideas to help us lead the way,” says Neel Dayal, senior director of Partnership and Innovation at Rogers Communications. “The students we’ve met through our work with the University of Waterloo are engaged, innovative and capable, and the opportunity to connect, learn from, and hire talent as a direct result of our partnership has been incredible.”
Rogers helped match Eisen to the role and right business areas. The unique rotational nature of his role allows him to “try-on” different projects on four different teams to help enrich his skillset and provide a diverse experience.
“I was really happy with the whole application process. I met with a recruiter who suggested roles that matched my research area and skills in telecommunications to find the best fit,” Eisen says. “As a new grad, it’s hard to read a job description online and picture yourself in it or understand how that would translate to your day-to-day work. Meeting with the recruiter and the team leaders really helped me to see myself in the role.”
Natalie Gaudet had a similar experience in her final year of the Master of Digital Experience Innovation (MDEI) program.
“Rogers was an industry partner of the MDEI program. They had taken on a group of students to support an innovation project as part of our industry capstone project during our final semester,” Gaudet says. This industry integration is a standard part of the program and lets students connect their classroom learning and research with real-word problem solving. “I was really intrigued with Rogers when I heard their pitch. It was compelling to see how Rogers as a leading Canadian technology and media company is leveraging digital innovation to advance 5G.”
A co-ordinator at the MDEI program shared a similar open employment call opportunity with the group that specifically connected the program’s focus and training with the skills Rogers was looking for.
Gaudet is now a Rogers employee and works full-time in the Rogers 5G Create Lab on a four-term rotation. Although new to the role, she feels prepared and able to make meaningful contributions to her team. “I’m applying the methodologies and toolkit of skills I learned in my MDEI program in my job every day.”
Being an industry partner with Waterloo has opened a door to Rogers to connect to the programs and students who are developing the digital skills they’re looking for to grow their business. For students like Eisen and Gaudet, they’ve been able to apply their in-class learning to create business solutions and gain valuable industry experience.
A talent evolution is underway, and the effects are being felt in every sector. Waterloo’s robust talent ecosystem is equipped to respond — from world-leading co-operative education programs to research and innovations that drive real-world change. Learn how your organization can benefit.
The University of Waterloo acknowledges that much of our work takes place on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. Our main campus is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land granted to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River. Our active work toward reconciliation takes place across our campuses through research, learning, teaching, and community building, and is centralized within our Office of Indigenous Relations.