I'm a developer tool and infrastructure engineer on a team that looks like so.

Job level(seniority) in the company in parenthesis


A quick run down of the team.

I report to Bob(not an ex-developer), so does Alice. But Alice, an ex dev, has been around so long and is so well regarded that I might as well report to her. My daily standup is with her and she tracks but does not assign my deliverables.

Bob is extremely reasonable and evaluates everyone fairly.

We were recently assigned some interns and I was in charge of providing technical mentorship and guidance to 2 interns who are interested in working on the dev tools side of things.

I give them a good, but not outrageous, workload. They often come in around 8 and leave around 6 and get through a healthy number of tickets an I have only good things to say about them.

Alice's team, however, are adopting a no pain no gain approach and are really riding their interns hard. I've seen the interns on their teamwork several times into the night

One night I was walking out of a meeting room with Bob after a late night call and he saw the interns on Alice's team working. He stopped to chat with them and get to know them and he jokingly remarked, "Hey! Where are your interns?". The interns and Bob are now on a first name basis and get coffee together and stuff sometimes.

Obviously, he was joking. But I came back home and thought about it and I wondered what would happen if he took that into account when making offers to the interns. Not all the interns can be hired, we don't have the headcount. I don't want the reason the interns I mentored to not be hired to be I did not give them enough work. At the same time, I don't want them to be so overloaded that they spend weekends at the office like Alice's interns.

How do I put across to Bob that my interns do some cool stuff too without

  1. Directly taking a dig at Alice or her intern management
  2. Presenting as tooting my own horn too much

Should I just ride them hard too?

  • 1) are Alice's interns learning something different (i.e. not dev). 2) is your 8am-6pm approach typical of the dev role as you see it? 3) is being ridden hard typical of whatever it is that Alice's team does? An internship should probably give a taste of what the real job will be like, although adjustments should be made based on their non-realistic pay grade. Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 19:21
  • Well the devs on Alice's team are product devs, but the job title would be the same. So they are all in competition. I wouldn;t say 8am - 6pm is typical. People generally work till the job is done. Sometime they leave at 10pm , sometime at 2. IT depends. But I;d say 8am to 6pm of productive work indicates you have stuff to do and you are doing it.
    – user87777
    Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 19:30
  • 1
    The intern program pays well. At least I think it does. I used to intern here and my pay was about 80% that of a full employee. And they usually take about an hour off to lunch and another hour to goof off or play with the office stuff like Xbox etc.
    – user87777
    Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 21:39
  • @user87777 is the pay hourly or salary? Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 12:52
  • @Pyrotechnical I think junior and senior interns get paid normally i.e not hourly
    – user87777
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 17:32

5 Answers 5


I don't want the reason the interns I mentored to not be hired to be I did not give them enough work.

I wouldn't look at it that way. Bob didn't meet Alice's interns because she assigned them too much work. He met them because it was a chance encounter. He could have very well walked by your area when her interns were all in a meeting and yours weren't.

Besides - and more importantly - if a company is rewarding/promoting/hiring purely based on who sticks around and works late into the night on a regular basis, you may be doing your interns a favor by not getting them hired there.

Rewarding employees who "put in the extra effort" on a too-frequent basis is often done under the guise of "rewarding dedication," but in reality, it's basically supporting bad management, and/or bad employee performance. Employees should have a reasonable workload which they're able to finish their tasks in their allotted hours (perhaps with occasional, infrequent exceptions).

In other words, if an employee is regularly staying that late in order to finish their work, either they're really slow (and need coaching/training/help) or they've been given too much work and not enough time to finish it (because their boss is bad at work management.) Neither of those situations should reflect positively on the employee.

To answer your actual question,

Should I just ride them hard too?

No. You should treat them fairly and give them a reasonable workload. You should make sure you're supporting them with training or help as needed. You should make sure they're contributing to the company, but also have opportunities to learn, if possible. If you are given the opportunity to be involved in hiring decisions, you should do it on merit of their work and their ability to contribute in a sustainable manner, not based on who stayed late every night.

  • I wouldn't say the company does that. it;s just that if someone sticks around late they usually have a lot of stuff to do and are doing it. I'm certain Alice's interns communicated the amount of work they accomplish to Bob, which admittedly is more but not a lot more than what my interns do
    – user87777
    Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 19:32
  • 8
    My point is, if someone is "sticking around late" on a regular basis, it's because they have too much work to do, and it's not a situation that should be rewarded. If the company makes a hiring decision based on "did you stay after hours all the time or not?" then you interns might have a better work/life balance by working somewhere else. At any rate, I think "give my interns more work, so they have to stay late too" is a bad idea.
    – dwizum
    Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 19:38

If you think Bob is reasonable and you get on well, talk to him about it.

If the interns should be striving to meet Bob's expectations, you need to find out what Bob's expectations are.

If you think Bob's expectations are not fair, you should discuss them with him. Don't project your own expectations onto the Inters, because that is not what they will be judged on.

I personally wouldn't go to Alice to ask her advice.

If Bob tells you that he is looking for Interns that work deep into the night every night, that's what you should let your Interns know. It's up to them to decide if they think that's fair. You should not be artificially restricting their oppertunity because of your notion about what is, or is not fair. Put the ball in their court.

You do have an obligation to your Interns, and also you have an obligation to your company. Ultimately the best thing for the company to do is give the Interns the same scope to succeed. That's how you find the best people. It's not tooting your own horn.

  • 1
    This is the correct answer. Communicate Communicate Communicate. Ask Bob of his minimum requirements and ask about what he ideally believes is the appropriate appropriate work output. Alice's interns might be competing with yours at the end for a full-time role. So you ought it to them to give them the opportunity to compete. In the end, it's not just how much work is done, but also how it's done.
    – J. Doe.
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 13:41
  • THis is a horrible answer. There are standards of labor in the country. A workday is 8 hours. Giving them so much to do they have to stay late does no favors to them, burns them out, causes them to produce inferior work, and actually will make it less likely they accept an offer from your company later. Its a lose-lose. These are temporary workers, not animals. Commented Mar 30, 2019 at 9:19
  • @GabeSechan You should read some of the other comments. They are doing 8 hours of work a day, which is quite usual. If I was an intern, I would rather my supervisor be honest about expectations and let me make up my own mind about what is fair. I would be very mad if my supervisor sabotaged my chances because they believed I should only work 8 hours a day. Just because you feel the expectations are unfair doesn't magically mean that they change. It is something that needs to be taken up with the boss. Commented Mar 30, 2019 at 9:38
  • @GregoryCurrie I read all of the comments here. Yours is saying that he should ask the boss and possibly force his interns to do more than that. THis is not to the interns, or the company's best interest. The guy is doing right just as he is. Commented Mar 30, 2019 at 9:42
  • 1
    @GabeSechan I don't make any apologies for clearly explaining to an intern on the criteria they will ultimately be judged and treating them like the adults they are. I would however apologize if I didn't speak to the boss to try to ensure the expectations were reasonable. Commented Mar 30, 2019 at 9:52

How do the interns feel? If they want more load, give it to them. When I interned I was happy to go home at quitting time.

Personally, I'd ask Bob. Or Alice. They're your go-to people for questions. Get their opinions on it and see if they think you're too nice to your interns.

  • They seem content. I should ask them more pointedly if they can/want to do more :)
    – user87777
    Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 19:32
  • @user87777 - just be aware that "asking the interns if they can/want to do more" may receive a very biased response, based on what they think you want to hear.
    – dwizum
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 13:08

Depending on the relationship with Bob or the procedures already in place to evaluate your interns' work, you could do some of the following:

  1. send reports to Bob regularly (once per week, perhaps?), outlining the tasks assigned to and completed by them
  2. highlight any problems they may have encountered that may explain a odd bad performance in a given week. including the solutions they found may be also a point
  3. highlight good behaviors
  4. highlight contributions - for example, intern A came with a new idea that was implemented and the result was this or that improvement on our project, product or way of working
  5. highlight points of improvement they may have and outline the actions you intend to do to address them
  6. see if Bob would like to see demos from the interns

btw, nice that you care about them!


Currently, I have a few interns at work as colleagues. They are pretty good, but I'd never expect them to have the same performance as a regular employee. And it would sadden me if the manager demands overtime from them. Depending on the job market and on the economy, even the concept of "voluntary" overtime is suspect*. If a company demands both stellar performance and overtime from its interns, then they should also be paid like a regular employee.

Ideally, internships are a win-win for both sides: potential employees can showcase their skills, gain experience, and get to know a potential future workplace. Meanwhile, companies can get some work done and evaluate prospective employee's talent along the way. This can be both more efficient than employing someone by luck, and more reliable than a questionable recruitment process.

*: On a related note, I find it important that young people develop sufficient judgement to burn slowly, lest they might contract health problems at some point. But I admit that entrepreneurs, members of startups and other kinds of workaholics might disagree :-)

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