Title pretty much says it all. We work in pairs here at my company, and my peer has just quit, leaving me all alone. I'm swamped right now, having to work my part and my former peer's.

There is an intern, however, that keeps playing online browser games all day long. There is a lot of 'manual' work that can be done by anyone, and he could do it.

The issue: I'm not above him in the hierarchy, and therefore I cannot delegate tasks to him. We're not friends per se, but we're cordial enough to make me not want to start a shitstorm.

I have already tried talking to my manager without mentioning names and telling on him ("I'm kind swamped, do you know if there is anyone who could help me out?"), and I got nowhere, my boss replied instantly that everybody's busy.

Should I approach said coworker directly, should I ask my boss to delegate some tasks to him, or should I suck it up and just do all the work? Would it be professional to just approach my manager and tell him I know he's been slacking and that he is not that busy?

  • 10
    Did your boss think you were asking for help with things an intern might not be able to handle? You might get a better result if you ask if you could give the intern a specific task instead of just saying you need help.
    – ColleenV
    Jul 21, 2015 at 13:46
  • For such an impromptu question, your boss may not have considered the intern at that time. I would send an email as a follow-up.
    – user8365
    Jul 21, 2015 at 20:00
  • 5
    I disagree that this question is a duplicate of those specified... While the title of this thread indicates that he's looking to make his coworker's slacking more visible, the actual text of the question makes it clear that he'd rather get help from his coworker.
    – Lindsey D
    Jul 21, 2015 at 20:30
  • Your boss replied instantly that everybody's busy - that's where you should have said, no, so-and-so is not busy, he's playing online browser games all day.
    – gnasher729
    Mar 22, 2016 at 12:28
  • It's not a duplicate which is why it's a good idea to read the question AND the alleged dupe before casting VTC. It's different enough to warrant its own question and not have to try to shoehorn it in with the other two just because it's in the same general area. Reopen this bad-boy.
    – Chris E
    Aug 12, 2017 at 23:30

3 Answers 3


You don't need to snitch on him, just ask for him by name. Say, "Can Joe help me with ...." or "What about Joe, this coould be a good learning experience for him." Likely the manager wasn't even considering interns when he said everyone is busy. People do tend to forget they exist which may be why he has not work to do.

  • 17
    I agree. Interns are usually below the radar of management because of their limited capabilities. If the OP can figure out how to keep the intern busy and supervised, that's killing two birds with one stone. The OP simply asks "Is it OK for me to round up that intern and make him work?" Jul 21, 2015 at 14:35
  • 6
    But be really sure the intern can be useful! Keeping someone else busy also takes time, and an intern can sometimes be more work than help. You don't want to add to your own work because you're spending time keeping the intern busy, unless there is a clear benefit of less work for you. Jul 21, 2015 at 15:24
  • 4
    There also may be legal problems with having the intern do “real work,” if the intern is unpaid. Unfortunately, it’s still rather common practice for unpaid interns to do real work, and plenty of places get away with it, but an unpaid intern should only be learning, not contributing. If they are contributing, they need to be paid, and if the intern currently isn’t being paid it’s unlikely that management is going to want to start.
    – KRyan
    Jul 21, 2015 at 16:38
  • Good point @KRyan
    – HLGEM
    Jul 21, 2015 at 16:45
  • 1
    @KRyan We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. The intern has yet to prove that he is capable of doing anything. In one of the best companies I worked for, we had our interns do real work, because that was the only way we could find out if they were any good, that they could learn on the spot, amd that they could perform real work. This was back in the late 1980's-1990's - we paid them $15/hr, an amount that probably counts as real money back then. I really hate companies like NBC or CBS that hire unpaid interns when they really can afford to pay them - It's just a disgusting act. Jul 22, 2015 at 1:43

Don't overthink it... Talk to the intern directly!

He may not be your BFF, but let's assume he's a reasonable person. If you were to approach him and ask for help, there's a reasonable chance that he'd comply.

"Hey Joe, are you busy right now? I've got a couple of tasks that I would love your help on!"

He probably has no idea that you're swamped, or that he could be of assistance to you. If he's available (which he seems to be), then perhaps he'd be willing to volunteer his time and lend you a hand.

Remember, you're asking him for help, not delegating to an underling. There is a very clear difference, so just be sure that your tone reflects that.

  • 4
    This is the best answer. Always handle problems at the lowest level possible.
    – Kevin
    Jul 21, 2015 at 20:03
  • 1
    @Kevin in the case of an intern, I'd ask their tutor first.
    – Aserre
    Jul 22, 2015 at 11:55

Besides the answer(s) and comments you can talk with supervisor of the intern if there is any. You can "officially" learn that if the intern is working on something. Also it would be a nice way to divert the manpower to your project, study, etc.

If this is not possible/applicable asking directly to the intern for some assignments is alright. At least employees have approached like that when I was an intern.

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