I am two months into my last internship as a Software Engineer, and the workplace is fine, except for one other intern, who I happen to work in pair with.

We work on our own project in the company, so we do not have a real hierarchy above us that works on that project, we only have two or three other people to check on our global progress, and to ensure we are applying the right project management techniques.

The heart of the problem lies in the fact that that other intern slacks all day, ends up blaming his computer, or the network we are working on, or the different frameworks or software that we use. Plus, but that is totally personal, I don't like him but he seems to like me. So my first approach was to help him through those "problems", so that he can get to work. But that did not help that much, because I lost a lot of time on that expecting him to know at least the basics (which he clearly does not, and that is unacceptable after 5 years studying for that kind of job), and because he always ended up blaming something else.

Now I am not a cocky person, but I manage. I work hard, I get rid of my own problems without disturbing the workplace, and I generally like to keep it professional. But this guy really endangers the well-being of the project: we only have 3 months left of internship and we are expected to have a finished product at that time. That would be an accurate timing if it wasn't for the fact that I have to work more than double, because I have to pick up the slack AND help him just to try and get a real work partner.

I already confronted him about that but he dodges the question, or acts like I am joking even though I assure him that I clearly am not.

So here's the real question: is it OK to go to my acting superiors and clear that out, so that we can try and work from there, or should I bite the bullet and just endure those last 3 months?

  • 1
    related: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/23165/… -- not a dupe because these are interns Sep 30, 2018 at 18:13
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    I assume you have a mentor who is helping you out in all this? Have you talked with them?
    – Erik
    Sep 30, 2018 at 18:18
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    @Erik I do, this is probably a better idea than going directly to my superiors in the company, thanks for the advice !
    – mrqs
    Sep 30, 2018 at 19:22
  • He knows you don't like him, he acts like he doesn't know because he wants to use you. Same thing with the "he thinks you're joking". He knows you aren't joking, but it serves his purposes to act like you are.
    – Jim Clay
    Oct 1, 2018 at 14:37
  • When he asks for help from you, redirect him to your mentor. Oct 1, 2018 at 17:27

3 Answers 3


One of the golden rules is to just mind your own business, do your work and don't stick your nose where it doesn't belong.

If you complain about the other intern you can easily be seen as toxic person who throws others under the bus to their own benefit.

It should be your manager's responsibility to notice this, not yours. And if you don't have anybody who oversees you or the project on a regular basis, then that's a conscious decision made by somebody and not your fault.

However, you can protect yourself otherwise. Keep track of what work has been assigned to you, how it has progressed, leave paper trail of the communication, focus on your work and do it well.

And don't stress about the (failing?) project. If there are just 2 interns working on it and nobody manages it actively, it's not super important. This is just excellent opportunity for you to learn a lot.

  • 1
    Also, I presume OP is using some form of source control (like GIT). It should be evident based on the commits who is doing the work. Sep 30, 2018 at 17:28
  • I am completely aware that the project isn't going to have an impact on either the company or my career, other than being the direct product over which I will be evaluated for my internship. I could then be seen as not working enough because the result of the internship would not meet the expectations of the company. As for the versioning : we are using a proprietary tool set up by the company, and it doesn't really keep track of the contribution of the collaborators working on the project. It just keeps a list of commits and their messages.
    – mrqs
    Sep 30, 2018 at 17:36
  • Golden rule? To get rired, yes. In the OP case, minding your own business is stupid as the OP makes it lear the other intern dies inflict damage on the common project. It IS his business to care about the progress.
    – TomTom
    Oct 1, 2018 at 10:13
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    You should avoid drama and throwing anybody under the bus early in your career before you actually have the credibility to do so. Of course letting managers know the project is in jeopardy is fine, but this wasn't what OP was asking about (at least how I understood it)
    – Sopuli
    Oct 1, 2018 at 11:04
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    @HorusKol There's a difference between telling management that the project is in danger, and telling management that the other intern sucks and is causing the project to fail.
    – Jim Clay
    Oct 1, 2018 at 14:40

The "golden rule" of "mind your own business" that has been quoted is being misapplied in this instance - because, in this case, it is your business.

While it's true that you should be more concerned with your own work/performance than that of others in your team and/organisation, you should also be concerned about anything that may impact the delivery of the project you are currently working on. Simply waiting for management to notice is not enough, for a couple of reasons:

a) you appear to have minimal oversight (which is not great for a pair of interns) - so your individual contributions may not be monitored all that closely; b) you appear to be covering for the other intern, and management may see your combined output as adequate (while you are exhausting yourself with your effort).

If your project is not delivered on time, it will not look good for you even if you belatedly protest your partner's lack of contribution. Management will ask why you didn't bring it up before.

If you're not comfortable taken this directly to a superior or whoever assigned the project to you, then discuss with your mentor (if you have one).

In any event, the time to fix a potential roadblock is before the deadline, not after.


I suggest you don't try to appear toxic indeed, but still do take this up with your supervisor. Don't say that you think he is slacking, instead say you're feeling overwhelmed by having to help the other employee, and you are unable to get your work done on time because of it and feel like he would receive better guidance from someone with more experience. You are there really to learn, not to teach someone else how to do things, and its unnecessary stress. There are limits to how much guidance/help you can give to a person which is suppose to be on the same level as you.

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