Our company is small, less than 10 people. All hiring decisions are made by our CEO, with little to no input from our CTO.

We have had an intern developer for a few months. Our CEO seems to think that this intern is amazingly talented and produces quality work, but the intern's work usually has to be cleaned up quite a bit by us regular developers. In my opinion, this is normal and should be expected.

EDIT: To clarify, the intern is producing work that is of an acceptable quality for an intern. This question is about managing a CEO's over-estimation of an intern.

My concern is that our CEO will continue to hire interns and expect their output to be the same quality as a developer. Should I say anything, and if so what should I say?

  • What is the heirarchy? Do you report to the CTO, and does the CTO know that you feel the CEO is crediting the intern for some work that you think should be credited to the current dev team? – Air Aug 17 '15 at 19:43
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    Agreed, that this sounds very normal. However, it sounds like you need to start accounting for your time spent cleaning up the intern's code. That should hopefully help the CEO realize that the intern's code isn't 100% up to snuff. – Jim B Aug 17 '15 at 19:45
  • @Air Yes, I report to the CTO, and he agrees with my opinion of the intern's ability. – awesomebob Aug 17 '15 at 19:49
  • @JimB Tracking my cleanup time sounds like a good start. What would be the best way to present that to the CEO? – awesomebob Aug 17 '15 at 19:51
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    Honestly; feels like your CTO should be the one to bring it up to him. But if the CEO is coming to you directly, you can say something like "Intern Ian is turning in good work, but like any intern; there's some cleanup involved with what he produces. Here's the time I've logged over the last month helping him out..." – Jim B Aug 17 '15 at 20:01

From your comments: Your direct manager, the CTO, knows of the intern's ability or lack thereof.

It's his/her job to change any misconceptions the CEO has. You stepping up to sandbag the new intern wouldn't be helpful to anyone. Not the CEO, not the intern, not the CTO, whose actual job it would be and certainly not for you.

Now, if I'm that CTO I'll likely just let it go. If the CEO is happy with the intern and the intern's work is good enough then there's absolutely no harm in letting the CEO be happy. If the intern's work wasn't good enough then, as CTO, I would absolutely point it out and remove them from the company.

Point is: your management already knows. Stepping over them, especially in a small company, to correct what sounds like a minor misconception could ultimately reflect poorly on you.

The BEST thing you can do in this situation is to hold weekly reviews with the intern to point out the areas that you are cleaning up. Make sure to include the reasons for the changes and do this in a positive manner. That way the intern learns from you (which is what they should be doing) and, hopefully, you end up with a productive coworker whose work quality is aligned with the teams expectations.


Your company doesn't have plans, documentation or follow-up. The CEO should know what projects everyone is working on and how much. Without this, there is no way for the CEO to know what anyone is doing let alone the intern. If the intern is put on a project and the CEO is lead to believe no one else worked on this project, what do you expect?

My concern is that our CEO will continue to hire interns and expect their output to be the same quality as a developer.

One data point doesn't make a trend, but with such lack of control, you have a reason to be worried about much more than just interns.

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