Firstly, I am an intern at a software company. My supervisor is off today and tomorrow, but I've run out of things to do. I'm happy to just code away on my own thing to improve, but I do not wish to have trouble later on with my supervisor due to this and seem like I am lazy or a bad employee.

I thought about asking the person above him (a director) for something to do, however, I have emailed him yesterday already mentioning a project he never got back to me about and never got a reply. I feel like this is a sign that there is really nothing that he has for me today, especially since this sort of void period has happened previously. I don't wish to be seen as pushy and put a director on pressure to find me something to do, especially when he is busy with something else.

Is it better to talk to him, or just practice and learn coding as I await the return of my supervisor?

  • if your supervisor if off and you can't contact the director, have you tried asking colleagues ? They probably have an idea of what your supervisor would expect you to do if you have no tasks.
    – everyone
    Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 8:10
  • are there other developers on your team? Is there a task/product/project management board where you can review tickets that are in progress or coming up? Is there something you can learn more about regarding the software you're developing? Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 21:55

3 Answers 3


I'm mostly idle at work as I'm rarely set tasks, should I press for more work or do my own thing?

If you are more idle than not, I would ask your manager for more work. This way they are aware you don't have enough to do, and also know you want to be kept busy.

If your immediate manager is out, go up the chain of command and ask for stuff to do, or alternatively ask a colleague if they need a hand. If these strategies don't get you work to do, then by all means do some self training, but keep the boss in the loop as to how your spending your time.

  • +1 for the ask colleagues if they need a hand. A lot of knowledge/experience you can get is from them rather than just work you do on their own. Even if it's just observing them as they work or pair programming. A lot of other developers may be more than happy to help with this as it's something they can add onto their own appraisals/reviews to say they've been helping train/teach others.
    – Jsmith2800
    Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 11:23

Both - Being an intern is about getting experience. Doing your own thing can only get you so much experience but doesn't get you work specific experience but rather coding knowledge.

Try pressing for work and do your own thing alongside it (if you have the time and it's not an important piece of work). You'll learn the most this way. You'll also get experience in talking to the director which may build confidence depending on your situation but also get you acknowledged that you are actively working/looking for work to complete.

If you don't get any work if you learn on your own and your management is okay with this then do that. You've only got two days to wait until your supervisor returns.


If you are not given work, then you ask your manager, and if he has nothing, then you decide what to do, and tell your manager “ I will be doing x, y and z”.

It shows initiative, and if your manager doesn’t like it, he can override it.

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