Landing a summer internship at any Wall Street firm is tough.

But Business Insider recently spoke with a summer intern who had to work extra hard to land his first finance gig  and not for any of the usual reasons.

Recruiters kept turning this undergraduate from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton business school down because, at 19, he was only in his freshman year of college.

When Wall Street started recruiting at Penn last year, the intern, who wished to remain anonymous, did everything right. He was confident in his experience  his dual degree in finance and biology, his background in quantitative math, and the Professional Risk Managers certification he earned before even starting college.

But he kept getting the same response: Try again in a couple of years.

The only interview he managed to score was for a sophomore training program at Goldman Sachs, and that's only because the recruiters didn't realize he was a freshman.

He decided to take things into his own hands.

When the intern didn't hear back from the bank, he took things into his own hands and started reaching out to the alumni from his school.

He emailed about 200 Penn grads, who he found by making a long list of firms he was interested in and cross-checking it with the school's alumni database.

That's how he met a senior person at a hedge fund with $9 billion under management. They hit it off.

But then, in the midst of interviewing with that firm, Goldman suddenly called and invited him  with one day's notice  to their "superday" of interviews in New York City.

He attended and eventually got an offer from the investment bank for a summer analyst position, but managed to hold off on responding until he'd heard from the hedge fund too.

Goldman gave him several extra weeks to decide, but in the end, he chose the hedge fund because of the type of work he would be doing.

Hedge fund perks.

That summer, the intern got to rotate across four teams during his 12-week internship, including real estate equities, health care equities, mortgage and fixed income, and quantitative strategies and risk management.

At Goldman, he said, he would have been "stuck" on one trading desk  a nonderivative, noncash equity trading desk for the summer.

The hours are better at the hedge fund, too, and he gets a lot more responsibility. That's partly because the intern, who is back there for another stint this summer, is one of a kind at the firm the only undergraduate they've ever hired, and by far the youngest person in the office.

What else contributed to his decision in the end?

It probably didn't hurt that he makes 30% to 40% more at the hedge fund than what investment banks pay their interns.

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