I am a programming intern at a company in Australia. Is it normal for a programmer to be given a project that has to be completed within a week?

For example, I have been given a task to create a Facebook app for one of the companies we have, I have 2 years experience at University in a Bachelor of Computer Science & my boss knows I have never developed an application using the Facebook Graph API & its IFrame version of apps. He would like me to finish the app in a week; its an interactive calendar that displays different looks based loosely on the facebook users likes (if no likes are present then a default look is shown) & to charge the user credits if they wish to enter a competition. Plus I am the only person in the software development team, the other people in the company do trading, real estate etc. In my 2 months I have been at this job I have developed a website updater (a java applet & a javascript one), 2 websites(css, javascript, html) & am halfway through a mobile application(using the Moync API & C++). Am I working under the typical Agile Software Development or are these kinds of timetables unrealistic for a one person team? Is this kind of thing normal?

I dont believe I can introduce myself to the facebook Graph API & develop the app in a week, but I do believe I could get this done in 2-3 weeks.

Is a one week timetable something other software developers would assign to a junior programming intern?

  • 2
    Copy and paste this question to your boss.
    – J.K.
    Apr 1, 2011 at 4:10
  • 2
    Do what you can. Times like these its best to maintain a daily log sheet of progress and deliver your estimation change over the weekend.
    – Aditya P
    Apr 1, 2011 at 4:55

4 Answers 4


Is it normal for a programmer to be given a project that has to be completed within a week?

They gave you a whole week? Count yourself lucky you didnt get a call at 4pm on Friday demanding something by 5pm.

Yes, unfortunately its normal in a lot of places. Particularly places driven by sales-people, where promises get made and specs written up before a developer is actually consulted.

That being said, if you think a time table you are given is too short, tell your manager that they're being overly optimistic. They may not know any more than you do about how such a project is made, so they took a wild guess. Most reasonable managers will abide by an estimate from a developer if there isnt a hard and set deadline.

  • +1 for simple answer. That is how the expectations run in such places.
    – Aditya P
    Apr 1, 2011 at 4:55

There's a few ways of looking at this and from what you've said, it's impossible to know which is the right one.

Only one project in a week? Luxury!

It could be that they're trying to work as far through their task/project list as fast as humanly possible whilst they have you as an intern, as they have no other techies around when you're gone again who could do them.

It's also possible they have no idea at all what sensible timescales on the various projects are, so some unrealistic ones are to be expected. You mention you're the only programmer, so I infer your boss is none technical. As you've successfully delivered the others, maybe you need to point out the timescale is unrealistic.

And no, that's not a typical Agile set up!!


You should let your boss how long you think it will take. If he's insistent on you finishing within a week, you can tell him that you'll try your best but you can't make any promises. Keep to your own schedule, and he should learn to believe your estimates. If he doesn't, then find a boss who does.


I think asking for and Pairing up with another developer, who has been around, is in order, in these scenarios. A bit of Pair programming for the first 2 days, will show

  1. How fast you are going
  2. Help you in sizing the whole task
  3. Bring out scenarios (by mutual questioning and conversation with your pair) which your boss hasn't thought of (I wonder why he is setting the time limits and not you)
  4. Have another person lending credibility to your views, when you later have a conversation with your boss