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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

School's out for college kids, and it's internship season — but just as the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted all other types of work, it's roiling internships, too.

The big picture: Some internships have been canceled completely, and other firms are figuring out ways to make the experience totally remote. Either way, millions of students are losing out on valuable work and life experience this summer.

What's happening: Tech companies like Google and PayPal can take the practical work components of internships and move them online, but companies and agencies that require security clearances and can't allow students to take work home can't offer internships this summer. Neither can programs in the hard sciences or performing arts.

  • And even for those tech internships, stripping away the opportunities to socialize and network in person changes the experience, says Tim Agnew, head of PayPal's recruitment efforts and internship program.
  • PayPal — which is running a fully remote internship program this summer — is making up for some of that lost socialization with trivia nights and small group meetings among interns.

One bit of silver lining: "[T]he rise of the virtual internship could bring something good to Silicon Valley: a work experiment that strips away some of the industry's built-in biases," Bloomberg's Shelly Banjo writes.

  • "For starters, not requiring interns to be able to afford pricey rent in the Bay Area or other tech hubs could make jobs more accessible."
  • "Metrics-driven digital-only hiring could allow people making hiring decisions to excise prejudice."
  • "And in a digital workplace, bosses will have to judge interns mainly on their output, not their social performance or how well they fit into existing cliques."

What to watch: I asked Agnew if PayPal might make remote internships a permanent fixture for those who want the option.

  • It's very possible, he says. "We pivoted our entire program within a matter of weeks. We’re gonna learn things this year that we aren’t even aware of yet."
  • But typically students want the experience of coming to Silicon Valley and seeing if they'd want to be there long term. That element of internships won't go away.

Go deeper

Aug 28, 2020 - Health

Community colleges struggle with hands-on classes

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Programs at community colleges and technical schools that require hands-on learning — like welding or auto repair — have a unique challenge as they try to stay open while keeping students safe.

Why it matters: One-third of higher education students enrolled last spring were from a community college. And their student bodies are often higher-risk than traditional colleges', with more students who work, come from communities hit hard by the virus, or are older.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
32 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Higher education expands its climate push

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New or expanded climate initiatives are popping up at several universities, a sign of the topic's rising prominence and recognition of the threats and opportunities it creates.

Why it matters: Climate and clean energy initiatives at colleges and universities are nothing new, but it shows expanded an campus focus as the effects of climate change are becoming increasingly apparent, and the world is nowhere near the steep emissions cuts that scientists say are needed to hold future warming in check.

Ina Fried, author of Login
58 mins ago - Economy & Business

The pandemic isn't slowing tech

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Thursday's deluge of Big Tech earnings reports showed one thing pretty clearly: COVID-19 may be bad in all sorts of ways, but it's not slowing down the largest tech companies. If anything, it's helping some companies, like Amazon and Apple.

Yes, but: With the pandemic once again worsening in the U.S. and Europe, it's not clear how long the tech industry's winning streak can last.