Never Back Away From a Challenge: Kaleb Lancaster-Milligan ’19 BSBA (Finance)
April 5, 2019
Kaleb Lancaster-Milligan ’19 BSBA (Finance) has the perfect answer to the common interview prompt, “Describe a difficult situation you’ve been in.” In 2018, he landed a summer internship at Bank of America where he was tasked with finding solutions to a branch’s attrition problems. At the end of the summer, face to face with the branch director, “I essentially had to tell her she was doing her job wrong,” he says.
Just one summer prior, Lancaster-Milligan was engaging in an internship with a very different scope. He had gone back to his home state of Colorado to work for TRIO Upward Bound, a college prep program for low-income high schoolers; a program in which he participated himself.
“I wanted to give back to my community. I went back as a mentor, and now I’ve become their poster child in a way,” he says. “The program was reapplying for funding and used me as a success story to support its mission.”
Success story, indeed. In high school, Lancaster-Milligan had been named a Daniels Scholar, receiving a full tuition plus scholarship given to students that represent good ethics, character, leadership and academic promise. Receiving that scholarship provided him with the option to go anywhere he wanted to go for school—and he wanted to go to the University of Arizona.
Upon acceptance to UA, he already knew which career he would pursue. “A family friend recommended I consider finance,” he says. “I’m outgoing, good with people and I like math. For those reasons I chose the finance consulting route at Eller.”
Lancaster-Milligan’s first semester at Eller wasn’t easy, “I was working, hitting the books and learning to work with a team—putting in 80-hour weeks. It was a life adjustment,” he says.
But he survived that “brutal” first semester, and the next, and the next, and he credits the career coaches at Eller for seeing him through.
“Being from a low-income family, I didn’t have any big business connections,” he says. “I didn’t even know what Wall Street was. There was an information gap and the career coaches helped me break that down. One of them put me in contact with an Eller alum at Bank of America and that’s how I got my internship.”
At Bank of America, he analyzed attrition and, at the end of the summer, presented his findings including budgeting, structural and communication issues. He even addressed managerial issues, citing research by Eller Associate Professor of Management and Organizations Allison Gabriel.
“It was scary to discuss these issues in front of management for the branch, but I had learned how to handle difficult work situations at Eller,” he says.
Despite the awkward conversation with the branch director, Lancaster-Milligan ended up receiving a full-time offer from Bank of America—as well as Charles Schwab and Vanguard, among others. He decided on a position with Mercer as a healthcare financial analyst.
“During my first semester at Eller, there were nights that I was at McClelland Hall until one in the morning,” he says. “While I wouldn’t want to do it again, I’m well equipped with crucial skills that will help me thrive in the business world.”