I'm a research intern at a fairly selective/prestigious company. There are several other interns, all with different (though somewhat related) projects, some with different supervisors.

One of the interns on my "team" (same supervisor), never works. I know that phrase tends to be overused or hyperbole, but this guy honestly does not work. He spends 6~7 hours a day browsing reddit. I've never seen anything like this before; some of the other interns speculate he might have some mental issues given how compulsive the behavior is (doesn't it get boring?), along with a few other loud and strange tics. He's not very sneaky about it either. In the beginning he used to make an effort in hiding his browsing, switching tabs whenever someone walked by (the interns all work right next to him), but he does not bother with appearances now and it feels flagrant. He always has reddit open on half his monitor screen, and he'll ask us for help on his project. When another intern remarked about the reddit window, he snapped back to "mind your own business." Mind you, we work in an open office environment, no one has screen privacy.

It is very frustrating being around him. We all worked hard to get here, and we actually work. He's on his 5th or 6th project from his supervisor (whereas the rest of us are on original project or 2nd) because, not surprisingly, all previous projects had some "insurmountable" problem. When our supervisor comes by, he'll just talk out of his ass about this or that issue for 20 minutes and promptly return to reddit.

All the interns wish he was disciplined some how, or even moved to a private room where he won't bother us anymore, but it seems like our supervisor does not care, nor any of the regular staff/workers. None of us want to say anything, since it would only make us look bad complaining about another. We have another six months with this guy and as much as we might want to take the high-road and ignore him, but its frankly demoralizing and frustrating being around him, and we are beginning to loathe our superiors for allowing this.

Is there anything we can do besides "deal with it?"


4 Answers 4


The only time you should be concerning yourself with the productivity of another worker is when they report to you, or when it prevents you from being productive. All other times - see to yourself first.

Eventually management will wise up (they might have already - but they certainly wouldn't divulge that to other interns) - he's already hit "insurmountable" roadblocks on several projects.

In the mean time, I suggest you follow his advice - "mind your own business". You have a job to do, and that does not involve worrying about what another person is or isn't doing. You end up being distracted, and risk your own work suffering as a consequence. If he asks for help, then politely decline as you are too busy working on your own projects - it certainly doesn't sound like he'd return the favour.

Eventually, find yourself a new job elsewhere - and leave behind the good work you've done as a reference when you get a new job.


He really isn't your problem, he is his manager's problem. There is no way the manager hasn't figured out whether he is doing his job or not. You've noted yourself how many projects he has been unable to complete and been reassigned to. Your manager knows what is going on. It's possible he has his own reasons for keeping the intern around, but it is also likely that since this internship is a temporary gig it's just easier to ride it out to the end than go through the proceedings to let him go early. The problem is going to resolve itself in 6 months anyway.

What do you do? Focus on your own work. Do what you went there to do. Learn as much as can and, if you are hoping this internship will lead to a job offer, work as hard as you can to make a good impression. It doesn't sound like your projects force you to actually work with this person, so just ignore him. He isn't your problem.


Do you ever have a team meeting where you all share on projects you are working on and whah help you need? If you don't, this would be a great tool to have others including your manager gain visibility on his underutilization.

  • We do have team meetings where we discuss our progress and issues. He always talks at length about the impossible issues he has, and how difficult it is debugging, and he talks about certain, basic changes (I tried THIS activation INSTEAD of this one) as if they were landmark decisions. It should be obvious how little he gets done, but nothing ever happens.
    – AffineDay
    Apr 13, 2017 at 2:35

I would be vocal in those team meetings and challenge his claims. If he is not getting any work done, that should be made visible.

  • 1
    Don't do this. It will literally get you fired. Nobody likes a snitch, not even the people they snitch to.
    – sleddog
    Apr 13, 2017 at 16:00

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