Intern 'Pretending' to Work Stirs Debate About Productivity

An intern's viral video about appearing busy when she did not have any work to get done sparked a debate among commenters about productivity online.

The video, which amassed more than 1 million views, was posted by TikTok user @leciakeys21. Viewers chimed in, and while some wrote that she should seek out more work, others wrote they were in the same position and found themselves without work to do.

Research compiled by Zippia in April found that just seven percent of employees feel that they are productive in the workplace.

"Which correlated with the fact that employees are only productive for an average of 2 hours and 53 minutes per day," the organization's piece stated. "Likely, most employees feel unproductive because they spend the majority of their workday distracted."

If an employee becomes distracted, Zippia reported that it takes about 23 minutes and 15 seconds to refocus.

Intern
A woman's TikTok video discussing how she needed to pretend to work until she was given tasks to complete went viral and sparked a conversation among commenters about productivity. jacoblund/iStock

In her video, @leciakeys21 is seen typing at her computer.

"Me pretending to work at my internship cause they have not given me enough things to do yet," read the text over the video.

@leciakeys21 told Newsweek in an email that she recently started working at her marketing strategy internship last month and happened to film the video on a slower work day.

"I was never really having a problem with work since I have only been there for a week and my boss was very transparent about telling me she knows I don't have much to do yet but they were doing some behind-the-scenes work for my project," @leciakeys21 explained. "I had a dull moment and decided to make a TikTok, having no idea it would blow up as much as it did!"

This is not her first internship, and @leciakeys21 said her previous internship was similar in that she had more downtime during the first two weeks.

TikTokers Weigh In

Some viewers encouraged @leciakeys21 to ask for work to do.

"They expect [you] to be proactive and continue asking for tasks," a viewer wrote.

"Girl make sure they teach you stuff or you'll just be guiltily sitting in your cube all summer," another commented. "Trust me."

@leciakeys21 replied and noted that she just started her internship this week and said she believes she'll be given more work to do.

However, many viewers shared they were in a similar position.

"TikTok knows I'm at my desk [right now] doing this," wrote a viewer.

"Just repeatedly clicking through tabs until the appropriate time to tell them I'm done," another commented.

A viewer shared that they decided to return to waitressing after working an office job, claiming that time went by too slowly and they were "bored."

Some wrote that @leciakeys21 should take advantage of the downtime while she can.

"Definitely enjoy it cause it only picks up slowly but surely," one commented.

The verified TikTok account for LinkedIn even commented on the video, writing that @leciakeys21 should, "Cherish this time."

After reading the comments, @leciakeys21 said she thought many of them were funny and noticed that others found the video "relatable."

"I thought the amount of career advice in the comments was hilarious," she said.

Other Viral Moments

Other people online have shared their experiences with work in viral posts.

A woman took to TikTok last month to discuss her frustration with a job interview in which she said the interviewer told her they wanted to hire someone who is motivated by more than just money.

Meanwhile in late May, one man received the support of fellow Reddit users after he said he refused to train the person who was hired for the same position he applied for himself.

In addition, another man posted a tweet last week that has since gone viral claiming that his manager does not believe in remote work. As a result, employees were expected to return to the office.