Two wrongs make a right for University Transfer Business grad

By Sarah Rossi, Marketing and Communications

Photo by David Denofreo

If anyone can attest to the difficulties in finding the right career path, it’s Searaj Alam.

The 23-year-old Douglas College University Transfer grad – who is now studying Business Technology Management at UBC – started off his post-secondary education with a sudden change in course.

“I missed the SFU acceptance by one percent, and they wouldn’t round me up, so I enrolled at Douglas College, with plans to transfer as soon as I could,” he says.

Instead, Searaj ended up spending three and a half years at Douglas, starting off studying science, then engineering, and finally, business.

“My first semester at Douglas was the most challenging. I failed my first Chemistry course, got a P in English Literature, and was in complete shock. I realized that post-secondary is not high school; it’s a demanding, fast-paced environment that requires focus and dedication,” Searaj says.

So he took action. Searaj worked with an academic advisor and instructors to improve his grades and adjust to college. And his hard work paid off – by the end of his second semester, Searaj’s grades had improved significantly.

“After that first semester, I was glad I wasn’t accepted to SFU. It would have cost me a lot more to learn from my mistakes there. Douglas allowed me to get my bearings, make my mistakes and work to better myself,” Searaj says. “I’ve recommended to all my friends they start at Douglas.”

His experience also encouraged him to get more involved in the College – specifically the Douglas College Business Association.

“Most of my friends were in business, so I naturally ended up at the DCBA events, where I got to listen to so many inspiring speakers who shared their personal success stories,” he says.

The more events he attended, the more Searaj realized he wanted to pursue business. But after already having switched from science to engineering, he was reluctant to make yet another change.

“It was a really difficult decision to walk away from engineering. I had spent thousands of dollars and, more importantly, valuable time and energy, on my studies. Not to mention I had to explain to family and friends that my graduation time would be significantly delayed,” he says.

Nonetheless, Searaj enrolled in his first business course. He loved it, and decided to make the switch. Originally, he was enrolled in the Associate of Science program. When he switched, he completed all the first- and second-year business courses at Douglas that would allow him to transfer into his third year at UBC. When he wasn’t studying, he researched career options, and hit on one that would allow him to mesh technology and business: business technology management.

His idea of bringing the tech and business worlds together was something he had been mulling over since his switch to business.

“I want to bring people together and make them more effective in their work. With all the advancements in technology and numerous startups opening up in Vancouver alone, I think there’s a need for someone to bridge the gap between tech-savvy individuals and business professionals,” he says.

Now, all that’s left is to graduate from UBC. Once that’s done, Searaj will work on his immediate career goals: launching his business – and making the Forbes 30 Under 30 list.

“I have a lot of learning ahead of me, and I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to get there. But I know this is the right direction.”

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