University Transfer student follows his heart all the way to UBC and his own business

By Maia Odegaard, Marketing and Communications
Photo by David Denofreo

The path to success is not always a straight line. Just ask Searaj. When he missed being accepted to SFU by a mere one percent, he enrolled at Douglas, thinking it would be a means for a quick transfer to university. However, once at Douglas, he was shocked to discover that post-secondary was much harder than he imagined.

“My first semester at Douglas was definitely the most challenging. I failed my first Chemistry course and barely passed English. I realized that post-secondary was a demanding, fast-paced environment that requires focus and dedication,” Searaj says.

If at first you don’t succeed

Rather than giving up, he took action, working with an academic advisor and instructors to get back on track. He even switched from Science to Engineering, an agonizing decision as it meant starting again almost from scratch.

Inspired by events put on by the Douglas College Business Association, Searaj had yet again, another change of heart. He realized he wanted to pursue business so, he made the switch. After completing his first- and second-year business courses, Searaj finally transferred his credits into the Business Technology Management program at UBC’s Sauder School of Business, a Bachelor of Commerce degree specialization.

Getting down to business

Searaj Alam, contemplating his next business move.

During his time at UBC, Searaj began doing marketing work for small, local companies, offering his services for free and growing his clients’ businesses through social media. Eventually, he became so overwhelmed with clients that he had to call on a few friends to help with the workload. Nowadays, he has a social media marketing business, Social Soar Canada, which is off the ground and charging rates that won’t break the bank.

“We were shocked to learn how incredibly high the average marketing rates are in Vancouver,” says Searaj. “We’re the first – and most affordable – student-driven marketing firm in the entire city.”

The Douglas difference

Looking back on his academic career, Searaj says he’s glad he wasn’t accepted to university right off the bat. “It would have cost me a lot more to learn from my mistakes there. Douglas allowed me to get my bearings, make mistakes and work to better myself,” Searaj says. “I’ve recommended to all my friends they start at Douglas.”

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