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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The major tech companies are scrambling to craft digital options for this year's summer intern class, as businesses remain shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: Internships serve as key learning opportunities for students, but are also critical for the recruiting and diversity efforts of the Big Tech companies who compete fiercely for college talent.

Driving the news: These companies said they’re moving their programs online:

  • Google, which told Axios it will pay its interns the full rate.
  • Twitter, which told Axios its intern class may shrink this year.
  • IBM.
  • Microsoft, which said in a blog post this week that it will have its biggest ever intern class — more than 4,000.
  • Lyft, which will have the same number of interns as originally planned, but limit them to just two start dates to provide students with more of a common experience.
  • Salesforce, which also plans a similar size intern class as intended.

These companies are still hoping have at least some interns on-site for at least part of the summer:

  • Apple, which told Axios it plans to hire more than 1,000 people for a mix of online and in-person internships and pledged in a statement to "extend to our interns the same precautions and care that we're extending to all our other personnel as a part of the ongoing COVID-19 response."
  • Amazon, which told Axios it expects its biggest-ever class of interns globally, though it said the vast majority of internships will be virtual.
  • Intel, which does plan to have its interns work remotely but hopes to move them on-site should the situation and health authority guidelines make that possible.
  • Uber, which has made plans for online on-boarding and will keep the program online if their offices remain closed, but will aim to have its interns work in the office if that is possible.
  • Doordash, which told Axios that, for now, it "plans to stay the course" with its summer internship program, but is exploring options for conducting the program remotely and will "continue to re-evaluate as the situation progresses."

And Facebook’s plans are still up in the air.

  • "These are unprecedented times as you can imagine. We are considering all of our options for the summer internship program as we continue to put the health and safety of our employees and interns first," a Facebook spokesperson told Axios.

The big picture: All of the companies that commented on pay said they are planning to pay their virtual interns the same rate they would have received for in-person work.

  • A key question is how meaningful the online experience proves to be, both as a learning experience and a recruiting tool. Employers understand they need to try to find effective remote substitutes for in-person networking and social events, in addition to finding work tasks that can be done fully online.

Between the lines: Despite sincere efforts to go digital, some tech folks privately acknowledged that a virtual internship is unlikely to have the same meaning and impact for participants as an in-person experience.

Go deeper: Tech companies partner with public sector to take on coronavirus

Go deeper

DOJ watchdog to probe whether officials sought to alter election results

Former President Donald Trump and former First Lady Melania Trump exit Air Force One in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Jan. 20. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

The Justice Department's inspector general will investigate whether any current or former DOJ officials "engaged in an improper attempt to have DOJ seek to alter the outcome" of the 2020 election, the agency announced Monday.

Driving the news: The investigation comes in the wake of a New York Times report that alleged that Jeffrey Clark, the head of DOJ's civil division, had plotted with President Trump to oust acting Attorney General Jeffery Rosen in a scheme to overturn the election results in Georgia.

2 hours ago - Podcasts

Google's chief health officer Karen DeSalvo on vaccinating America

Google on Monday became the latest Big Tech company to get involved with COVID-19 vaccinations. Not just by doing things like incorporating vaccination sites into its maps, but by helping to turn some of its offices and parking lots into vaccination sites.

Axios Re:Cap goes deeper into what Google is doing, and why now, with Dr. Karen DeSalvo, Google's chief health officer who previously worked at HHS and as health commissioner for New Orleans.

Biden signs order overturning Trump's transgender military ban

Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

President Biden signed an executive order on Monday overturning the Trump administration's ban on transgender Americans serving in the military.

Why it matters: The ban, which allowed the military to bar openly transgender recruits and discharge people for not living as their sex assigned at birth, affected up to 15,000 service members, according to tallies from the National Center for Transgender Equality and Transgender American Veterans Association.