I'm working as an intern in a software development role. My supervisor is working on systems or something similar, and is always busy. I never get to really see them. I mainly report my progress using demos/pictures of my work. How do I actually build up a relationship with my supervisor and get on his good side? It feels like we're getting off to a pretty bad start as everytime I try to go see them, they're not there.

  • 1
    Have you tried sending him a meeting request rather than just showing up at his door?
    – HLGEM
    Jun 10, 2015 at 17:22
  • yep, used to, but he would send over a meeting request and then I would wait for it to start while working, and then the meeting wouldnt happen because they forgot about it or something and we end up not meeting, after this happened a couple times, i've sort of given up
    – mding5692
    Jun 10, 2015 at 17:24
  • 3
    Find out who you should be "taking direction from" in the manager's absence. There's usually either a team lead, someone who has been asked to work with you, or a "burndown list" of tasks needing to be addressed. If you can't find any of these, ask other folks in the dept what you should be doing until you can ask the manager.
    – keshlam
    Jun 10, 2015 at 17:24
  • If they forget the meeting, because they're engrossed in their work, just come knocking on their door a couple of minutes after the planned start. Jun 10, 2015 at 18:58

3 Answers 3


The priority is to have ONE meeting with your supervisor to talk about this issue. Make it happen. Offer to meet him at lunch time, to stay a bit later one evening... Insist on the fact that this is really important and will make both of your jobs easier in the future.

During this meeting, you'll want to discuss two topics :

  1. How to interact with him : tell him you know he's a very busy man, and you'd rather find an efficient way to communicate rather than bothering him at random times. This can be a daily five minutes stand-up meeting, a weekly presentation associated with a progress recap email every evening...
  2. What to do when you can't interact with him : him being busy doesn't change the fact that you're an intern, and thus need to be closely managed and taught. If he can't do that himself, have him introduce you to the people you can turn to about technical difficulties or whatever.

Anyway, don't forget that as your supervisor he's expected to make time for you. You're not a developer yet, there's a lot you have to learn, and him making efforts to help you improve is beneficial for both of you. Don't feel guilty for requiring attention or see yourself as a burden. Well let's face it, you most likely are a burden at the time. But one he signed up for :)


Basically, you make his life easier.

To extend on that, he has some very intensive work that is consuming his focus. You can build rapport with your boss by alleviating the minor, time consuming tasks that you are capable of handling without being asked (in addition to your normal workload), which saves him time, and as long as it is apparent that this is due to your work (without bragging overtly), then he will like you. This will also very likely lift some of his time burden, which will give him enough time to actually engage you in normal sociable terms.

  • i.e. "I saw you had ____ on your plate and haven't been able to get to it, so I went ahead and took care of it when I had a little down time. I hope I wasn't overstepping my bounds."
    – mopsyd
    Jun 11, 2015 at 23:16
  • I agree with you mostly. The only thing I would say is that you better be absolutely sure that the task you perform to assist the manager is something that you won't be causing problems doing. This is generally true in all fields, but especially the case when it comes to software development.
    – zfrisch
    Jun 11, 2015 at 23:21
  • That is true. The key if you are taking this approach is to start with the tasks that are trivial, but time consuming. In software development, debugging css would be a good example, as it is pretty straightforward and doesn't damage underlying services or data, but is still time consuming. Tickets that have been left in the queue for too long are also fair game, as long as they are within your skillset.
    – mopsyd
    Jun 12, 2015 at 17:34
  • However one should not overlook that this can also be as simple as grabbing an extra coffee when you go for one so your boss doesn't have to leave his desk and forget what he was doing.
    – mopsyd
    Jun 12, 2015 at 17:36
  • While the advice is good for a normal employee, keep in mind this is an intern. Most intern's require a lot of direction on even the most simplest of tasks, let alone to figure out ways to help the boss on their own. I don't blame the intern, they are inexperienced and usually very nervous about screwing up, which inhibits taking the initiative to do as you are suggesting. Probably rightfully so. Thus, I'm not sure this is helpful in the OP's case. I do not recommend the coffee idea at all. You aren't hired to be wait staff, don't perform actions that would cause others to view you as so.
    – Dunk
    Jun 16, 2015 at 15:49

Ask your supervisor to have lunch with you. Let him/her know you understand they are really busy, but that you would like to get to know them a little better and hear about some of the other projects going on in the company.

What's the worst that can happen with a request like this? Even if it takes a while to get on the calendar, it's hard to imagine anyone too busy for something like this.

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