A new intern started working here about two weeks ago. He sits right next to me.

The things is that he is too intrusive. Whenever I am talking with other colleagues from my desk he turns to one of us and asks, "What's going on?" That happens with personal and work-related conversations.

He also started asking why I am doing this or that, jumping into conversations asking why I am requesting access or x or y.

It's annoying but it might be that he really wants to be involved with the rest of the team and the work itself so I don't want to be rude and turn him into an introspective person.

How can I politely ask him to step off a little bit?

  • 15
    Is this intern getting direction and guidance from anyone? Interns are there to learn, so if there's a void, maybe that intern is trying to salvage something from the internship instead of having a wasted summer, professionally. Commented Jul 25, 2017 at 21:37

2 Answers 2


When nobody else is around, maybe over lunch....

Bob, I just wanted to tell you that I really appreciate your enthusiasm and energy in trying to learn the business as quickly and in depth as you can. One thing I want to teach you about the business is when to jump in and when to hold back a bit. It's fine to ask an occasional question or to listen to conversations. What I'd like you to do for me is step back a bit and save your questions for after the conversation, that way I can answer everything for you at once, and it will also make it easier for me too, as it's hard for me to interact with the team and teach you at the same time. I want to make sure you don't get short changed in learning while I'm trying to talk to others.

NOTE: I didn't use any "but", "However" or any other qualifier. That's important to do when talking to someone. Whenever you throw in a word or phrase to that effect, the person ignores everything you said before the "But" and they only come away with a negative message. Take this approach, and you will keep his fire and reign him in a little bit.

  • 2
    Notice how he highlights the positives in this example "I want to make sure you don't get short changed in learning" but also gets the point across in a way that is not blaming the intern " that way I can answer everything for you at once, and it will also make it easier for me too" this is the most professional answer for sure. Commented Jul 26, 2017 at 16:27
  • The words "One thing" are the politically correct way of saying "but". Anyway, "one thing" sounds more polite then "but".
    – Julian
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 19:34
  • This tactic is likely to have a chilling effect on the Intern's speech and desire to learn in the workplace. I know because it's happened to me and it was very negative. You don't own your time at the company; the company pays you for it. Therefore your actions should be towards what is good for the company; not just you personally. Helping out the Intern may be what is best for the company. If you need to have a private discussion on a topic, get a conference room.
    – Bryansix
    Commented Apr 27, 2018 at 16:43
  • @Bryansix Read the very first line: "When nobody else is around, maybe over lunch...." Commented Oct 20, 2022 at 17:35

It sounds as though he doesn't know what's appropriate to his role and what's not, so he's attempting to get involved in everything.

This could be because you're not giving him enough direction in terms of what he should be interested in.

You could try starting each day with a quick run-down of the tasks for the day and indicate which items you'll be working through with him and let him know when he has "free" periods for his own learning/tasks (implying that you don't need him to shadow you at those times).

On other words, give the guy some structure.

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