If you’re looking to get a job, keep yourself busy, or generally improve your lot in life, there’s a very good chance you’ll visit a job search website.
If you’re Morgan Oluka, you make your own.
A fourth-year Economics student at UVic, Oluka is one of the founders of Opportunitree, a job search website for employers and employees alike. The website is beginning to pick up steam in Victoria, with more and more people on either side of the job hunt using its unique services.
Launched on Sept. 7, 2016, after almost a year of planning and programming, Opportunitree boasts features like built-in resumes, the ability to search for jobs by hours offered, and notifications updating you on your job search. Oluka runs the business and marketing side of the website, while Mesbah Mowlavi, a programmer working out of Vancouver, manages the technical side.
When Oluka first came down to the Martlet office, he was full of energy. He jumped onto a computer, pulled two Martlet employees with him, and showed off his website with a slick mixture of pride and well-rehearsed patter.
When he came back for an interview a week later, he looked visibly tired — perhaps the stress of a job, a start-up, and a full school workload has begun to catch up with him. It’s a candid look at the toll of the door-to-door work that Oluka has put into his project, but, impressively, he still speaks with an intensity and determination that indicates how passionate he is about the website.
Having come to Canada from Nigeria in 2009, and then switching from a chemistry degree at Capilano University to the Economics program at UVic in 2014, Oluka explains that he has always had an interest in business.
“Growing up I’ve always had this dream to be someone big,” Oluka says. “To make something for myself, to make a name. I’m from Africa, where, the way I was brought up, [if] my dad had this achievement, [I would tell] him I was going to beat him at it.”
Bringing his passion for budgeting, trade, and the economy with him to Canada, Oluka and his roommates would often informally come up with different entrepreneurial enterprises.
“It was all a joke,” he explains, “but then I took that seriously, and it became something that I figured out I could do . . . that [there are] a lot of things out there [that] could be invented or be made better for people.”
Oluka says that the idea for Opportunitree was initially for international students as a way to offset the greater tuition and living costs. But when he began to explore the idea further, he realized that the tool could be used for a greater range of people.
“I’ve always wanted to help students,” he says, “but I [realized] this website could also expand . . . for people who want to work two jobs, [or for] single moms or single dads who want to work while their kids are in school.”
The first challenge came with finding a name.
“That was the first time I took interest in so many languages,” Oluka admits, laughing. “I looked up ‘window’ in Fijian, in Finnish, Spanish, Portuguese . . . there were so many names, I can’t even remember one now.”
Mowlavi came with up Opportunitree after Oluka asked him to think of something that represented the sense of connectedness that Oluka hoped the website would bring.
Now the biggest challenge is getting enough people —both employees and employers —to use the service. Oluka is confident that the website’s features are worth people’s time, but he realizes that in a small Victoria community, it can take a while to build up enough consumer trust.
“It comes down to time. Eventually it will keep growing. No website kicked it up within a month,” Oluka says, with a solemn, almost philosophical tone to his voice.
Then he smiles.
“But some smart people are already using it.”