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I'm halfway into my 4-month internship at a software development company of 50+ employees. So far I've have done every task they have assigned to me, but they're fairly small tasks, so I'm constantly without any specific tasks to do.

My supervisor is rather senior and very busy, so I don't like to keep asking him multiple times for new tasks (even though I report to him every single time I finish the ask given and also say "I am open to new tasks" or something similar).

This week I asked him and his supervisor for a feedback, and they said that they are very satisfied with me/my work. When I asked if there was something that I could improve, they said that I am okay and that they don't have any complaints.

The problem is that I am only have enough work to fill around 40% of my working hours.

I thought about trying to engage some project here, but that doesn't seem like a good thing to do, because I think I would be bypassing my supervisor doing it.

How can I ask for more tasks without being annoying/rude here? Is it okay to ask for more tasks?

9

Next time you go back to your manager, ask for more than one task. Tell him you want to do more work, and if you have multiple tasks, you can work on the next one after you finish the first, which will give him a bit more time to respond after you finish a task. That will also allow you to switch to a new task if you hit a roadblock on the other. Then, your status when you talk to him can be more like this:

  • I have finished task C and have the information here for you.
  • I've started working on task D and am at x% of finishing it.
  • I've looked at task E and expect it to take n days.
  • When you get a chance, please assign task F to me. I will then be able to give you an estimate on it when I next speak to you.

A hard worker tries to stay busy. There is another option, if he doesn't always have the tasks to give to you. Ask him if there are others you can help, and how he would like you to go about asking to help them.

  • "if he doesn't always have the tasks to give to you", yeah that is the case. It is hard to find someone that I can help because most of the workers here are engaged in some big project for a long time already. Most of my code is aimed at in-house programs, that help us doing our daily tasks. – Xaphanius Jun 24 '15 at 20:27
  • @Xaphanius In that case, think of how you could improve those in-house programs. Can the interface be cleaned up? Can some things be automated? You could clean up the code, write comments in the code and explain "what is happening" or what you're doing. You could work on documentation, your own project(s), or ask if your immediate colleagues can show you some of their work. Internship is really about learning and getting to know a workplace environment. And because you're there relatively shortly, you aren't assigned any large(r) tasks as they would probably take you too long. – Edwin Lambregts Jun 25 '15 at 8:15
  • @EdwinLambregts Every file I make has a really good documentation -I've plenty of time to work on documentation- but I got your point. You also said something that I have not yet thought about, "And because you're there relatively shortly [...]" really makes sense. – Xaphanius Jun 25 '15 at 13:06
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Look around you and see if there is there is some task or process that you could improve by writing some new software. Research it and propose it to them. This will demonstrate initiative on your part and (hopefully) impress them even more.

If they let you work on it, you can provide added value to the company and this will be a great thing to have on your resume. When I am hiring/interviewing, I am more impressed by someone who identified a problem solved it, then someone who just did the tasks they were assigned.

  • This should be the chosen answer. Self-management is one of the best traits. – Zoomzoom Jun 25 '15 at 22:56
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My supervisor is someone really important here and also really busy, so I don't like to keep asking him multiple times for new tasks

Next time you meet with your supervisor, instead of asking for a task, ask something like:

"I hate bothering you, since you are so busy. When I complete my assigned tasks, what would you like me to do?"

You supervisor may give you a list of "fill-in" activities, may tell you to ask someone else for a task, or may just tell you to think of something on your own. If it were me, and I had a great, fast intern, I'd give him or her a very long list of tasks that would last longer than a week.

This isn't unusual, in my experience. A good intern can often power through assigned tasks far more quickly than an average intern. But a supervisor has to be careful not to overload and overwhelm interns.

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If I were a manager, I'd hate the idea of having an intern on my staff. Tight deadlines and an intern who is nagging for supervisory time - that's a miserable mix to me.

Find yourself/cook yourself a project that you like/that needs doing and that you can suggest to your manager as something you can work on where you are not busy. Then work on it and get out of your manager's way after you have let your manager know that you are done with whatever they asked you to do.

  • You have to think of interns as future employees to see why he/she's worth your time. – Zoomzoom Jun 25 '15 at 22:54

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