I have about ten years of professional engineering work experience. I'm working full time on a long term project with a huge client who has delegated the vast majority of my project management to an engineering intern (currently enrolled in a masters program, and working part time).

I'm familiar with "managing up" to project managers who are senior to me, and who have seen projects start, stall, flourish, flounder, succeed and fail. However, in this circumstance, the project manager has maybe had a few classes with projects -- hardly a valuable point of reference.

The intern's superior is not readily available, and from them I can usually get email responses only a few times a week. How can I effectively manage expectations of the intern who is managing my project?

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    How are you failing to meet the PM's Expectations? How is their being an intern causing this failure? I do not think we can really help you with this question with out an answer to those 2 questions being edited into your question. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Oct 10 '17 at 20:01
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    Your phrasing is a bit confusing. Is the intern taking over your responsibilities as a PM, is the intern your PM or are you the intern's PM? If the intern's taken over your responsibilities, what makes them being successful your responsibility? Who has only had "a few classes with projects"? You, the intern or (all of) your senior(s)? – Bernhard Barker Oct 10 '17 at 20:35
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    What problem are you trying to solve? Your question reads as if you assume that the intern is going to fail, but you've given no reason to suspect this is going to happen. – enderland Oct 10 '17 at 21:01
  • Are the intern's expectations unreasonable? – AffableAmbler Oct 10 '17 at 23:42

How can I effectively manage expectations of the intern who is managing my project?

Since the intern is managing your project, you "manage up" exactly the same way you would to any other project manager.

Anything less than that would risk insulting this project manager, and I'm guessing that wouldn't be good for you. This intern still represents the huge client.

Try not to look down on this individual, just because you have more experience. As you get older, you will encounter this situation more often.

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    +1.It's worth noting too that if the OP tries to go over the head of the designated contact person regularly it will end up looking very poorly for them. – enderland Oct 10 '17 at 21:02

The longer you stay in engineering, the more likely it is that you will be managed by someone with less experience than you.

What to do when your pointy-haired boss is a pimply-faced youth? Exactly what you'd have done with any other boss. You have enough experience of how this relationship is supposed to work, make it so.