10 Things Interns Can Do When They Run Out of Tasks

Managing a high school student in a corporate job is a new experience for many supervisors. Check out this top 10 list of things to have your intern do when they run out of work.

1. Slow down and do simple tasks really well

An important part of getting more work is doing the work that you have been given with high quality and completing it on time. 

Here are some good questions to ask yourself:

  • Am I recording all of my deadlines in the same place?
  • Am I meeting them?
  • Am I double checking my work before I turn it in?
  • Did I create a clear process that I could follow if I needed to come back to this task in two months

Unlike school, quality is often a lot more important than speed at work. Doing tasks right the first time and catching small mistakes before you submit things is very important.

2. Ask for feedback on how you are doing

Getting others perspective on the quality and timeliness of your work is important. Have you asked your manager recently how you are doing at getting things done well and on time? Are there other people that you work with that you could ask for direct feedback from?

3. Repeat a task that you have already learned to do

If you were trained to do a specific task and you realize that it has not been done for a while, volunteer to do it again. For example:

  • You assisted your department with cleaning up their SharePoint site in September. It is now six weeks later and you notice that it is starting to get cluttered again. Ask your manager to see if you can clean it again.
  • You made a phone list for the five people that work in your area. You notice that nobody else in your department has a list like this. Ask your manager if you can make a list for your whole department using the same process you followed before.

4. Ask your manager or another co-worker if there is anything else you can help with

If you feel that you have done items 1-3 well, ask around if there are other tasks you can take on.

5. Volunteer to make a manual or update training materials

Do you remember when you started at your company and no documentation existed to help you learn how to do your job? Ask your manager if you could show off your Word or Excel skills by creating a training document. Take screenshots, write clear directions, ask co-workers for feedback and then show your manager your results.

6. Express gratitude

Have you written a thank you email to someone who has helped you at your job recently? Take time to say thanks.

7. Clean your virtual workspace

Organize the desktop on your computer. Clean up your email inbox. Clean up the folders and saved items on your computer.

8. Clean your physical workspace

Are their disinfecting wipes around that you could wipe down your desk with? Are there papers that need to be sorted? Does your space have a nice clean appearance? Take a few minutes and do it now!

9. Company training online

Are there modules available to you that would help you with your current job (i.e., advanced Excel or Outlook trainings)? Are there modules that would help you in future jobs? Ask your manager if you can access and complete these during down time.

10. Ask your manager about doing a career interest interview

Are there people at your company doing a job you think looks really cool? Ask your manager for permission to set up a 1-on-1 with them.