Two photos of Jayson Blankenship. One of him on the UF Campus petting a dog in a Gator shirt, and there other of him sitting below a large building in Malaysia.

Master of Science in Management student gains international business insight and a new network on Global Immersion Experience in Malaysia

Jayson Blankenship (MSM ’19) came to the University of Florida Master of Science in Management (MSM) program with an undergraduate degree in communications from the University of Charleston. While initially not keen on the University of Florida for his graduate studies, Jayson quickly changed his mind after attending an MSM information session. “After seeing UF in person, I fell in love and knew UF was where I wanted to go,” he said.

Jayson added an international component to his MSM journey when he traveled with other Warrington students to Malaysia as part of a Global Immersion Experience in early May 2019. While an international experience isn’t required for MSM students, Jayson knew the trip would provide an added layer of learning to his graduate program. He spoke with us about traveling to the Southeast Asian nation and how it impacted his graduate school experience.

I decided to do the GIE trip because I had missed out on an abroad experience in undergrad, and I did not want to make that mistake again. In today’s business world, having global experience is an asset, and I wanted to see how other countries conducted business and try to learn from that and apply it to what I know in the United States. Before this trip I had also never been outside of the U.S. and the GIE to Malaysia seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally change that.

My GIE experience was amazing. It was a real “planes, trains, and automobiles” experience, as I took six flights on three different airlines, one charter bus, and multiple Grab’s (the Southeast Asian version of Uber), but the process was still very smooth for me. I enjoyed the company visits and presentations; they were very interactive and really educated us on how Asia can differ and yet be similar to the United States. We were able to see first-hand how being 12 hours ahead of the Eastern Standard Time Zone, in an Islamic country, and close to countries such as China, Australia, and Thailand affected how Malaysia and Asia does business.

I was the only MSM student on the trip, so I was worried about fitting in with 50+ Master of International Business (MIB) students, but within 20 minutes of checking into our hotels, I was already out exploring with a group of MIBs, and by that night, we were all out exploring Kuala Lumpur nightlife together. Three months later, I’m still in contact with these friends I met on the trip, and thanks to them I gained some of the best memories.

The trip was also very well organized. UF did a great job of coordinating and planning everything out, our tour guides were amazing, and we had no issues at any of our stops or sights. They encouraged us to embrace the culture and see the city in our free time, and that is what we did. I tried new foods and drinks that I hadn’t before – even trying Malaysian McDonald’s, and it was a great experience. The people were friendly and helpful; it was easy to not feel like a tourist. Even though Malaysia is 10,000 miles away, there wasn’t a big culture shock at all. And with how the GIE trip is set up, I was able to fit in more as well, seeing Singapore, France and Netherlands in the same trip.

I’d suggest all MSM students give the GIE trip a serious look. Although it’s not required for MSM’s, it will be a huge asset on your resume, give a great perspective on global business, and it’s just an amazing time. While was the only MSM who went to Malaysia, but I quickly gained 50 MIB friends and lasting memories. Even if you’ve been out of the country before, the GIE trips still have much more to offer.

Do whatever you can to make this one-year program memorable; it will go by fast. And don’t just stick to MSM, try reaching out and networking. Other students may be a different program, but they have the same personalities as us MSM’s, and the more networking, the better.

Interested in getting a first-hand look at international business operations and gaining some new friends along the way like Jayson? Request information about the UF Master of Science in Management and how you can have your own Global Immersion Experience, too.