Richard Miranda

How a Master of Science in Management helped this alumnus get his dream job

Thanks to his Master of Science in Management (MSM) degree, alumnus Richard Miranda (BS ’14, MSM ’15) was able to get the position he set his sight on ten years ago, Florida’s State Plant Health Director at the United States Department of Agriculture. We spoke with Miranda about how the UF MSM program helped him achieve his goals, what advice he has for current and future MSM students and more. Read below to see what Miranda had to say about why he’s proud to be an MSM alumnus and Business Gator.

Q: Can you tell us about your journey to the MSM program? What sparked your interest in pursuing a degree in management?

Miranda: “In 2013, I was a non-traditional undergraduate student seeking an advanced degree program that would prepare me for movement up the corporate ladder in my agency. At the time, I worked for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and had reached as high as I could with my limited education.

I happened to run into an MSM student one day as I was submitting some registration paperwork and he could not speak highly enough about the MSM program. He went on and on about the coursework, the professional development done outside the classroom (e.g. mock interviews, dining etiquette, meeting potential employers, etc.). I decided to look into it myself. After one visit with an advisor I was sold that the program was what I was seeking.

One of the big sellers for me (versus an MBA) was that I wasn’t going to have the heavy coursework in finance, stock markets and so on. Working for a government agency, the curriculum offered enough budget and finance courses to prepare me for executive management and budgetary decisions I might have to make one day, without bogging me down with topics I was never going to use.”

Q: What advice would you give current and future students in the MSM program?

Miranda: “I would advise MSM students to take advantage of every single extracurricular opportunity offered by the program. Although it might seem tedious and unimportant now, when they tell you not to show up to meet a potential employer without a suit on, LISTEN to them.

I am now one of those potential employers and I can always tell a Hough Graduate School student from all others. MSM students stand out as professional, articulate and prepared. That doesn’t just happen in the classroom, it happens at every one of those job fairs, mock interviews, and so on.

Also, take classes like Written Communication and Public Speaking very seriously. I know it’s a business degree and accounting, finance, logistics, etc.  seem like all you need, but writing and public speaking are basic skills that will make a big difference in your career.

If you can’t prepare a properly written letter, or stand up in front of 20 people and give a 10-minute presentation, your career will stall. You may be able to calculate the most efficient supply chain, win at accounting Monopoly (wink), or determine the correct valuation of a bond, but if you can’t write in a clear way, or present it professionally in front of an audience, then you’re of limited value to a company.”

Q: How did your MSM experience prepare you for your career and life?

Miranda: “The MSM program made me a more well-rounded employee, with skills no one else had. This made me for valuable to my organization.

Roughly three months before I graduated with my MSM, I was promoted to deputy director of my division. Two years after that I applied for a federal vacancy as the state director (Florida) for the USDA’s Plant Protection and Quarantine Service.

My MSM degree was one of the things that helped me stand out against the other applicants, some of whom had master’s degrees in the sciences. But my degree was in executive management and included coursework in financial management, managerial accounting, human resources and business law. I was hired as Florida’s State Plant Health Director nine months ago and now direct the largest (agriculturally) and busiest state in the nation.

Shortly after graduating I was also approached by a friend of mine who is a professor at Florida State University (I know… yuck!) who, knowing I had received my Master of Science in Management, offered me a position as an adjunct lecturer in their Public Management Certification program. I accepted that part-time job and have been teaching management and leadership for three years.

Lastly, I didn’t expect the change in the way people treat me when they find out I have a master’s degree from UF. People look at you differently and treat you with a higher degree of respect. Even my own family sees me with different eyes now.”

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

Miranda: “The MSM program was a great experience while I was going through it, and it has done nothing but make my life better in every respect—nearly doubling my salary in less than five years certainly hasn’t hurt (wink). Go Gators!”

Interested in learning how a Master of Science in Management can help you achieve your career goals? Request information about the UF MSM program today.