So here is my problem, I'm an intern at a fairly large offices. My supervisor and manager are out of the office for at least another 2 weeks and I've finished the work they have set me. Usually I wouldn't be hugely busy but now I am literally sitting at my desk more or less twiddling my thumbs, or trying new programming languages. My manager asked my team members before he left to give me work if they had any to give, but I have yet to receive anything.

So my question is how could I phrase asking for work when going around my department that wouldn't come off as desperate? Or what kind of way could I write a group email?

  • "I'm currently out of work to be doing. Is there anything you could pass over?"
    – L_Church
    Jun 12, 2018 at 8:04
  • Is it possible your boss forgot to assign you extra work, or is it possible they assumed you would go looking for work to do without checking with them?
    – user34587
    Jun 12, 2018 at 8:22
  • I think he assumed the work I had to do would take me longer as i had been trying to get a simple program to run for a month ish. Turned out it was a simple driver error that I had corrected within a week of him leaving. I also had another task but I had to rush that one due to the facilities being used for it being needed. Its done alright though. Jun 12, 2018 at 8:24
  • "My manager asked my team members before he left to give me work if they had any to give" Have you asked these team members for work?
    – Masked Man
    Jun 12, 2018 at 11:14
  • see also: what should I do when there is nothing to do in office
    – gnat
    Jun 12, 2018 at 21:33

3 Answers 3


You're overthinking this. Didn't your supervisor assign somebody from the team to temporarily manage your tasks? If yes, ask that person. If no, you could ask a senior member of your team:

Hey, my supervisor assigned tasks to me and I'm already done with them, while my supervisor is still away for at least 2 weeks. Do you have time to review my completed tasks with me and possibly give me some new tasks to work on?

If they don't have time, ask that senior person who else may have time.

  • He didnt assign me to anyone for managment and Im not entirly sure who I should ask Jun 12, 2018 at 8:13
  • Does your supervisor or manager have a direct coworker? Maybe you can ask your manager's manager who you can ask for new tasks?
    – Stefan
    Jun 12, 2018 at 8:16
  • He does yes, but im not exactly sure of the hierarchical structure and who is who as this is a very large office. The highest manager I have met is the manager i mentioned in the post who is gone for 2 weeks Jun 12, 2018 at 8:25
  • Just ask that person, perhaps by an email so you don't disturb him directly while he's working. Best case, you get new tasks or a name of someone else you can ask. Worst case, that person cannot help you. Either way, you can probably fill up your time reading up on things like documentation in the meantime.
    – Stefan
    Jun 12, 2018 at 8:31
  • thanks, one last question , should is send a group email or individual ones. I've decided on email as I think most people are busy at the moment. Jun 12, 2018 at 8:36

Asking for work is never seen as desperate. Quite the opposite, it is seen as proactive.

You first go to your colleagues, and if they have nothing for you, then you just walk to the nearest manager. Most have plenty of work that would be useful but not useful enough to justify spending manpower on, so if you offer to work for them for free (it’s free to them) they will take you up on that offer.

  • great, would it be better to do face to face or in an email? Jun 12, 2018 at 8:28

Finishing your work earlier than expected (while still performing well) is seen as something nice. Your supervisor will be happy with this!

What I would do, is send a quick email to your supervisor (and possibly your manager too, depending on who keeps an eye on whatever you do.) telling him you finished early, solved the problem and will be asking your coworkers for more work.

Hi supervisor,

I finished task X early and solved the issue by doing Y. I will be asking my coworkers for new tasks to do now, as we agreed upon before you left.

Good luck with the business trip (or holiday, or whatever they're doing)

Kind regards, mynameissecret

This way, your supervisor knows what you're up to. If your coworkers fail to give you any new tasks, you can get back to your supervisor on this.

As for asking for new tasks from your coworkers, I would ask in person first. This way you have the best chance on getting a response fast. I like to start the conversation in person and if needed explain what my skills are. It might happen that they don't know of a task just by the top of their head. I then ask them to email me with any tasks they have available for me.

Now it can happen that they forget to send you a task, or maybe you just don't hear back from them. Send them an email at the end of the day asking for a task.

Hi coworker,

Did you manage to find the time to assign some tasks to me? If not, do you know who else I could ask for a new task?

Thanks for helping me,


Now, on to what you should be doing while waiting for a new task. As I understand, your supervisor did not give you any material to work on other than the first task. I would put time in learning new things. Read up on articles, search for tutorials etc. If you're unsure if you are allowed to do these things, you could include a line mentioning this in the email you initially send to your supervisor. This way you're letting him know you're doing something productive while waiting.

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