Tag Archives: Diversity and Inclusion

Code Next students merge computer science and activism

At this year’s Google Code Next Hackathon, students used computer science know-how to build applications that they hope will make a difference in the world. They pitched and presented projects like “AirFreeN’Free,” a website to fight the housing crisis in the Bay Area, “Know Your Rights,” which looked to inform citizens of their rights when stopped by law enforcement and “Equal Income,” which informs citizens on the gender pay gap. 

Code Next (a Code With Google program) is a free computer science education program for Black and Latinx high school students. The program works in communities to inspire students and equip students with the skills and education necessary for careers in CS. The two-day Hackathon, which took place in both Oakland and New York City in June, is one of the program’s most anticipated events of the year. Students use the knowledge learned in the classroom to come up with ideas, develop them and pitch prototypes. 

This year, students were challenged to develop a mobile or web application that addressed social justice, inequality or the environment. 

Day one of the Hackathon centered on ideas. In Oakland, a workshop was led by Anthony Mays, an advocate for inclusion and diversity in tech. He cheered the students and encouraged them to trust their instincts. “Whatever comes straight to mind.” Mays instructed the students, “I want you to write it down.” 

Day two centered on the coding and preparation for the pitch, which occurred at the end of the day. 

“We do discuss what we want to do for the world and how to save it, but we don’t usually pitch like this,” says Merelis Peralta, a Code Next student, whose “Police Brutality” app won third place in New York City.  “Having to pitch about how we want to help our community and make them safer opens our voice.” 

Both of this year’s winners addressed the environment. In Oakland, Code Next students Adesina Taylor, Luis Sanchez, Jacob Sonhthila, Xzavier Ceja and David Ung took home the first place prize. The team, which called their project “STEN,” created a web application that allows users to buy and distribute stone paper, an alternative to paper made from wood, as a means to fight deforestation. 

In New York, students Mohammad Hasan, Mohammed Ibrahim, Andy Asante, Alexander Leonardi and Rafid Almustaqim won first prize with a mobile application, “NextGen Carbon,” that tracks pollution levels. The app places users in competition with one another by tracking their day to day carbon emissions, encouraging them to reduce their numbers. 

“We want to emphasize that there are people that know what global warming is,” Andy says. “They just don’t know what causes it. Our app informs them.” 

At the conclusion of the two days, the students celebrated their achievements, their hard work and the challenges they overcame as a team in front of their Code Next mentors, coaches, family and friends. 

“After trying Code Next, I found out that although CS might be hard, it’s fun at the same time,” says student Ayan Cooper. “I want people to see that that it’s meaningful.”

How we help the veteran community succeed in startups

As part of our continued commitment to support the military community, we’re partnering with Patriot Boot Camp, Bunker Labs and Veteran Capital to empower transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. Of the 250,000 service members who will transition out of the military this year, one in four want to start their own business—in addition to the 2.5 million businesses already led by veterans in the U.S. And despite frequent relocations, nearly a quarter of military spouses surveyed by Blue Star Families have owned their own business. Life in the military means learning to solve problems with limited resources, adapt to changing conditions and lead under pressure—and these are all qualities that also apply to startup life. 

Bunker Labs expands to more cities 

Bunker Labs was founded by veterans who, upon starting their own companies, saw ways they could create a clearer path to entrepreneurship for others in the military community. Today, Bunker Labs has 25 chapters around the country and runs business incubator programs in 15 cities, providing mentorship, education and community to more than 400 startups led by military spouses and veterans. Our partnership will expand Bunker Labs programming in two new cities—Atlanta, Georgia and Raleigh, North Carolina—and Google advisors offering one-on-one mentorship will also help startups in the program get the support and know-how to succeed.

Bunker Labs 2019 National Summit in Seattle, WA.jpeg

Aspiring entrepreneurs like Katherine Kostreva—military spouse and founder of OnPoint—at the Bunker Labs 2019 National Summit in Seattle, WA.

A focus on mentorship with Patriot Boot Camp

Building off the success of a three-day Patriot Boot Camp program supported by the Google Veterans Network in Austin, TX this year, our new partnership will pair startups founded by veterans and military spouses in the Patriot Mentor Program with advisors from Google to provide product expertise. We’re especially excited to support Patriot Boot Camp as they inspire and equip additional military spouse and veteran founders to succeed. People like Patriot Boot Camp alumni Erica McMannes and Liza Rodewald, military spouses with 17 moves between them, often struggle to find effective remote work opportunities that could keep up with their military lifestyles. Their experience inspired them to create Instant Teams, a startup that helps companies hire and manage a remote workforce of professionals from the military community. These entrepreneurs are showing amazing early traction—Erica and Liza just successfully raised a round of Series A funding. 

Bringing opportunities to the military community with Veteran Capital

Our partnership with Veteran Capital places veterans and military spouses in three-month fellowships at high-growth tech startups. We will also activate local Googlers to lead workshops that help military community members build effective resumes and learn sales skills and design best practices. People like James Maffey honed the ability to quickly identify and solve problems while in the U.S. Army, and applied that during a Veteran Capital Fellowship with First, an AI-driven real estate startup. "I learned how to thrive in environments of ambiguity during my time in the military, which translated well to the unpredictability and frequent pivoting of the startup world,” he says.

Our ongoing commitment to the military community

From helping vets find jobs and improving ways to work remotely to highlighting veteran-led business on Google Search and Maps, we’re honored to help transitioning service members, veterans, and military spouses grow their careers and businesses. Learn more about how Google for Startups supports the military community by joining us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And check out Google’s additional resources for veterans and military families.

Step up your interviewing game with Byteboard

I’ve worked as a software engineer on Google products like Photos and Maps for four years. But if you asked me to interview for a new role today, I doubt most technical interviews would accurately measure my skills. I would need to find time to comb through my college computer science books, practice coding theory problems like implementing linked lists or traversing a graph, and be prepared to showcase this knowledge on a whiteboard. 

According to a survey we conducted of over 2,500 working software engineers, nearly half of the respondents spent more than 15 hours studying for their technical interviews. Unfortunately, many companies still interview engineers in a way that's entirely disjointed from day-to-day engineering work—valuing access to the time and resources required to prepare over actual job-related knowledge and skills.

As a result, the tech interview process is often inefficient for companies, which sink considerable engineering resources into a process that yields very little insight, and frustrating for candidates, who aren't able to express their full skill-set. 

At Byteboard, a project built inside of Area 120 (Google’s workshop for experimental projects), we’ve redesigned the technical interview experience to be more effective, efficient and equitable for all. Our project-based interview assesses for engineering skills that are actually used on the job. The structured, identity-blind evaluation process enables hiring managers to reliably trust our recommendations, so they have to conduct fewer interviews before reaching a confident hiring decision. For candidates, this means they get to work through the design and implementation of a real-world problem in a real-world coding environment on their own time, without the stress of going through high-pressured theoretical tests. 

An effective interview to assess for on-the-job skills

Byteboard creates more effective technical interviews

We built the Byteboard interview by pairing our software engineering skills analysis with extensive academic research on assessment theory and inclusion best practices. Our interview assesses for skills like problem solving, role-related computer science knowledge, code fluency, growth mindset and interpersonal interaction. Byteboard evaluators—software engineers with up to 15+ years of experience—are trained to objectively review each anonymized interview for the presence of 20+ essential software engineering skills, which are converted into a skills profile for each candidate using clear and well-defined rubrics. 

By providing a more complete understanding of a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses across a range of skills, Byteboard enables hiring managers and recruiters to make data-backed hiring decisions. Early tester Betterment saw their onsite-to-offer rates significantly increase by using Byteboard, indicating its effectiveness at identifying strong candidates for the job.

A more efficient interview to save engineers time

Byteboard creates more efficient technical interviews

Byteboard offers an end-to-end service that includes developing, administering and evaluating the interviews, letting companies focus on meeting more potential candidates face-to-face and increasing the number of candidates they can interview. Our clients have replaced up to 100 percent of their pre-onsite interviews with the Byteboard interview, allowing them to redirect time toward recruiting candidates directly at places like conferences and college campuses.

An equitable interview format to reduce bias

Byteboard creates more equitable technical interviews

The Byteboard interview is designed to grant everyone, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, name, background or education, the same opportunity to demonstrate their skills. Traditional technical interviews tend to test for understanding of theoretical concepts, which often require a big investment of time or resources to study up on. This can create anxiety for candidates who may not have either of those to spare as they are looking for a new job. By focusing on engineering skills that are actually used on the job, Byteboard allows candidates to confidently show off their role-related skills in an environment that is less performative and more similar to how they typically work as engineers. 

I felt less anxious while doing the interview and it gave me the most complete view of my strengths and weaknesses than any other interview I've done. a recent candidate from Howard University
An applicant or recruiter using Byteboard

The Byteboard Assessment Development team of educators and software engineers develop challenging questions that are tested and calibrated among engineers across a wide range of demographics. Through Byteboard's anonymization and structured evaluation of the interviews, hiring managers can make decisions with confidence without relying on unconscious biases. 

With Byteboard, our ultimate goal is to make interviewing better for companies and candidates alike. Companies looking to improve their hiring process can get in touch at byteboard.dev.

Google employees take action to encourage women in computer science

When she was a teenager, Andrea Francke attended Schnupperstudium, or “Taster Week”—an event aimed at high-school girls to give them a taste of what it’s like to study computer science and work in the industry. That moment changed the course of her life. “As a teenager, Schnupperstudium was a game changer for me. That’s when I decided to study computer science,” says Andrea, who is now a senior software engineer at Google in Zürich.

This year, Andrea went back to Schnupperstudium, this time as a volunteer, to share her experience as part of a collaboration between employees at Google Zürich and the computer science department at ETH Zürich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich). “Offering other girls a glimpse into life as a software engineer is a cause that’s very dear to my heart,” Andrea says.

Andrea Francke and Tahmineh Sanamrad, Google software engineers, delivering a career panel for high school girls at Google Zürich.

Andrea Francke and Tahmineh Sanamrad, Google software engineers, delivering a career panel for high school girls at Google Zürich.

After this year’s Schnupperstudium event, surveys showed that seven in nine girls agreed they could learn computer science if they wanted to, said they had an interest in the subject and believed computer science could help them find a job they would enjoy. “While stereotypes about computer science abound, events like Schnupperstudium can often counter them by showing what it’s really like to work in this field,” Andrea adds.

Something as simple as having a good role model can help to encourage girls to pursue their aspirations. A study Google conducted showed that encouragement and exposure directly influence whether young women decide to go for a computer science degree.

As we look into the skills needed for the current and future workplace, we see that there will be an increased demand for workers in STEM jobs, which will greatly affect the next generation. Yet only around 30 percent of women go into STEM programs in college, so not all young people may end up represented in the field. Somewhere along the way to choosing a career path, women are losing interest in technology. 

That means there’s more to be done, especially at the stage when women are making decisions about their futures. That’s why here at Google, our employees are getting involved with events that encourage young people, and particularly women, to follow through on a computer science degree. 

In 2018 alone, more than 300 Google employees across Europe directly worked with 29,000 students and 1,000 teachers through a range of volunteering activities. These initiatives are part of Grow with Google, which gives people training, products and tools to help them find jobs, grow their businesses or careers. In Europe alone, 48 percent of the people we trained in digital skills were women, thanks to programs like WomenWill and #IamRemarkable.

As we celebrate  World Youth Skills Day and the achievements of 1.8 billion young people from age 10 to 24, we will continue working to help them prepare for their futures.

Code with Google helps more students learn to code

Melissa Schonig is a fifth-grade English and Language Arts (ELA) teacher at Lynhaven Elementary School where 40-50 percent of students are Latino, and many don’t have access to computers at home. She didn’t know much about computer science, but wanted her students to get familiar with coding because it can help with other skills, such as critical thinking and collaboration. So she tried a CS First activity where students coded different endings to the story they read in class. Melissa says that, in a short time, “the kids were problem solving, troubleshooting, and helping one another. It was incredible to hear the conversations about coding and the other concepts we were learning in the room.”

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Melissa and her students, learning how to code using CS First, a video-based curriculum for elementary and middle school students.

What Melissa saw in her classroom isn’t unique. 67 percent of teachers believe CS is just as important as other subjects, but many schools don’t offer computer science courses that include programming—and the ones that do are in well-resourced school districts. 

We believe that training, resources, and community for teachers are key to improving equity in CS education and expanding access for all students. Code with Google is our new CS comprehensive resource for educators. It brings together Google’s free curriculum and programs that build coding skills—from beginner level to advanced—to help students succeed. Teachers can integrate CS First into their classroom, guide their high school students to the free code learning app Grasshopper to learn Javascript, or share CS scholarship opportunities with students.

As part of Code with Google, we're extending our commitment to teachers by announcing a $1 million Google.org grant to the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) to support their mission of building community and providing CS professional development to teachers in communities across the U.S. Through CSTA’s national network of chapters, more teachers will have the resources they need to bring CS learning to their students. 

Code with Google is the next step in our ongoing commitment to closing equity gaps in computer science education. With the right tools and resources, more teachers can help their students unlock their potential with code. 

#PrideForever: Seven Googlers on the fight for LGBTQ+ rights

Earlier this month, we launched Pride Forever, celebrating the past, present and future of the LGBTQ+ community by elevating stories from around the world, like the ones from the Stonewall Forever living monument. This interactive digital monument was created by the LGBT Community Center of New York City (“the Center”) with support from Google, and it connects diverse voices and stories from the 50 years since the Stonewall riots to the modern-day movement for LGBTQ+ rights. 

Those voices include members of Google’s LGBTQ+ community, too. In offices all over the world, Googlers are reflecting on their own journeys and sharing their stories with the world. Here’s a glimpse of what seven Googlers say pride means to them.

Pride Forever

“For over a decade, I struggled to accept that I could possibly be trans. Then in 2012, Argentina passed its gender identity law–the first in the world to allow gender self-determination. While far removed from my home in Indonesia, it meant that people like me might finally have a chance at transitioning and living without harmful legal and medical gatekeeping. It gave me the courage to accept myself and start standing up for my right to be.” — Jean, Singapore

Pride Forever

“Two years ago, I was honored to create a Google Doodle for Gilbert Baker, creator of the rainbow flag representing diversity, unity, acceptance and pride. The first flag was made by hand, so I wanted to create a Doodle with the same handmade feeling. I learned to sew (not easy!) and recreated the flag in my tiny kitchen just a few blocks from where Baker made his original eight-color flag back in 1978. As an LGBTQ+ person, the flag and this Doodle were beyond personal to me, and it’s part of why I joined the Google Doodle team, in hopes of having opportunities to brighten and strengthen people’s days.” — Nate, San Francisco

Pride Forever

“We were both engineers working in male-dominated industries where being a lesbian was difficult. We were asked on a regular basis about husbands or why we weren’t married. California’s Prop 8 in 2008 (banning same-sex marriage) was an eye-opening moment for us. Although the prop passed, there was a large public opposition campaign standing up for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. It felt like a turning point for people across the United States showing that it was OK to support the LGBTQ+ cause without substantial retribution.”  — Candace and Michelle, South Carolina

Pride Forever

William, left, with his family. 

"Many people have shaped my life—but perhaps the most meaningful people in my life are my husband, whom I have been with for nearly 30 years, and my son, who gives me more joy (and a fair amount of frustration) than I could have ever imagined. For them, I owe thanks in large part to a valiant handful of New Yorkers whom I've never met. Their act of defiance at the Stonewall Inn 50 years ago ultimately enabled me to live, love and be who I am." — William, New York

Pride Forever

“When I first came out to my parents, my dad told me I’d never get a good job, and I’d lose all my friends unless I ‘changed my mind’ about being gay. That really hurt—that being gay is still seen as different, even to well-meaning people. Marriage equality in the U.K. in 2013 felt like a huge validation. The fact that this was part of an international wave, it was really a feeling of progressive acceptance.” — Nick, London

Pride Forever

“The original LGBTQ+ initialism was created in the late 1980s to introduce a more inclusive name for the gay community. To me, the LGBTQ+ acronym represents a diverse group of people that are unique and resilient. I am so proud to be a part of a community that is constantly evolving its boundaries for inclusion and actively championing societal equality. Even though there is still more to be done, being able to lean on one another for support—no matter where in the LGBTQ+ spectrum you fall—binds us together and has enabled us to make impressive progress across the globe.” — Andrew, Sydney

Supporting underrepresented founders with Backstage Accelerator

As a first-time Black founder from South Carolina, Harold Hughes isn’t your stereotypical startup CEO.  Despite his infectious enthusiasm and extensive sales experience, more than 140 investors passed on Bandwagon, his analytics company for sports venues, teams and fans. But after three years of no’s, Harold finally received a resounding yes with funding from Backstage Capital at the 2016 Google for Startups Black Founders Immersion Program. Not fitting in was exactly why Harold was the perfect fit for Backstage Capital’s team of “venture catalysts.”

“I found out later that Backstage saw more than 2,000 companies, and we were one of the startups they bet on,” remembers Harold. “I've always appreciated their team for believing in us early on and helping us find additional investors, minimize our costs, and amplify our message.”

Backstage Capital shares our belief that great ideas can come from anywhere, and we want to help them support more founders like Harold. So we’re partnering to help scale their new Backstage Accelerator, a three-month program for diverse founders in Detroit, Los Angeles, London and Philadelphia. In addition to initial investments, Backstage Accelerator helps startups reach their next critical milestone, with a team of experienced investors, experts and mentors. And now, they’ll get support from Google, too. Over the next year, each startup will be connected with Google advisors and product experts, onsite workshops in Google spaces, and access to the Google network of resources and support.

Backstage Accelerator is a natural addition to the 50+ organizations in the growing Google for Startups partner network. This year, we're supporting organizations like Founder Gym, Veteran Capital, and SheStarts to help level the playing field for underrepresented founders, connecting them to the resources and network they need to grow. Together, we can close the funding gap and open doors for founders of all backgrounds.

We’re proud to work alongside Backstage Accelerator to change the face of startup success. But don't just take our word for it. Join us in celebrating the incredible companies being built by Backstage Accelerator founders, featured this month on the Google for Startups Twitter, Instagram and Facebook channels.

Stonewall Forever: Honoring LGBTQ+ history through a living monument

Many people have shaped my life—my parents who brought me into the world; Miss Moran, my fifth grade teacher, who pushed me to be a better student; my late mentor Bill McCarthy who helped guide my career early in my professional life. But perhaps the most meaningful people in my life are my husband, whom I have been with for nearly 30 years, and my son, who gives me more joy (and a fair amount of frustration) than I could have ever imagined. For them, I owe thanks in large part to a valiant handful of New Yorkers whom I've never me. Their act of defiance ultimately enabled me to live, love and be who I am.

It was early in the morning on Saturday, June 28, 1969, when the police raided the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street, one of the few places at the time where LGBTQ people could gather openly. New Yorkers fought back. This altercation, known as the Stonewall Riots, led to angry protests that lasted for days and sparked the modern fight for LGBTQ rights around the world.

In 2016, President Obama designated Christopher Park, the small triangle of green that sits in front of the Stonewall Inn, as the first national monument dedicated to telling the story of this community’s struggle. The Stonewall National Monument serves as a reminder of the continuing fight for civil and human rights.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. To recognize this pivotal moment in history, the LGBT Community Center of New York City (The Center) spearheaded the creation of Stonewall Forever, an interactive “living monument” to 50 years of Pride. Google provided support in the form of a $1.5 million grant from Google.org, and volunteers from Google Creative Lab helped bring the experience to life.

Stonewall Forever connects diverse voices from the Stonewall era to the millions of voices in today’s LGBTQ community. The monument is made up of countless colorful pieces that contain digitized historical artifacts, oral histories capturing the early days of the movement, interviews with new voices of LGBTQ equality, and photos and messages added by people around the world.

Anyone can visit Stonewall Forever on the web, and through an augmented reality app that allows you to experience the Stonewall National Monument in New York’s Christopher Park. Explore the past, present and future of Pride and then add your own piece to the ever-growing monument. You can dive deeper by watching a short documentary, directed by Ro Haber, featuring an inclusive array of activists, from across generations, each giving their own interpretation of the Stonewall legacy.

Beyond our support of Stonewall Forever, we’re launching Pride Forever, a campaign honoring the past, present, and future of the LGBTQ+ community. This theme is rooted in sharing the past 50 years of global LGBTQ+ history with our users. Today’s interactive Google Doodle celebrates 50 years of Pride by taking us through its evolution over the decades, with animated illustrations by Doodler Nate Swinehart.  

Google Arts & Culture is also preserving even more archives and stories from LGBTQ history, in partnership with The Center,GLBT Historical Society of San Francisco, the National Park Service’s Stonewall Monument, and Cyark. The collection includes never-before-seen photos and videos, 3D models of the Stonewall monuments, and a virtual walking tour of LGBTQ sites in the Village.

Here are a few other ways we’re helping people celebrate Pride.

  • Like past years, we’ll identify major Pride parade routes on Google Maps.
  • Later this month, check out Google Play for apps, movies, books, and audiobooks to help the LGBTQ+ community share stories and also learn more about the history of LGBTQ+ rights.
  • And through Google My Business, business owners can mark their businesses as “LGBTQ-friendly” and as a “Transgender Safe Space” on their Google listing to let customers know they’re always welcome. As of today, more than 190,000 businesses have enabled these attributes on their business listing.

Today, Stonewall lives on in images, histories and monuments—old and new. It also lives on in the LGBTQ community and its supporters. The past paves the way for the future, and Stonewall Forever reminds us that alone we’re strong, but together we’re unstoppable. Pride is forever.

Source: Google LatLong

Finding my authentic self, from the outside looking in

As a child growing up in West Virginia, I have a distinct memory of looking at all of our silverware. Our forks, knives and spoons had the letter “S” engraved on them. I asked my mother why, and she said, “Oh, that’s because that’s our last name.” (My maiden name was Sui.) It was only later in life, after I went to college, that I realized where the S really came from.

My parents immigrated from China via Taiwan during the Cultural Revolution. They both came from very modest backgrounds and my father came to the U.S. with $5 in his pocket. He was a dishwasher at the Sheraton at night while he was doing his PhD at the University of Pennsylvania. And the Sheraton gifted them the silverware as a wedding gift.

My mom and dad worked incredibly hard to support us as a family. And as one of two Asian families in my town, assimilation was important to them. They wanted us to fit in, not stand out. They wanted us to only speak English, and now I speak Chinese very poorly. But my parents' emphasis on assimilation didn't stop me from facing adversity because of who I am. I had to fight to get the recognition I deserved, and that fight served me well through the rest of my career.

The plus side of being in a small town is everyone knows you. But the downside is that people are deeply critical about anyone who is different. I was on the student council, and would walk into another homeroom to make an announcement and have a whole bunch of kids make racist comments. Sadly, the teacher would do absolutely nothing.

All of us have that moment of being the “other.” Being the “other” meant that I had to work harder to be treated the same as everyone else. I had to work harder to get the same awards because of prejudices that I couldn’t articulate at the time.

It scars you. I repressed much of it and was very angry about it which drove me to think, “I'm going to show you all.” The best thing I did was deciding to go to Stanford. It was a gift to go to a place where I could meet people from all walks of life, and all types and sizes and religions and colors. You start to rethink who you are.

All of us have that moment of being the 'other.' Carol Carpenter

I think it’s critical to learn from the past and to determine what is authentic to you. And now that it’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I’ve had a chance to reflect on how my past, how that's affected my path, and the lessons I've learned along the way. If you've been a high achiever, you've been around other high achievers and you have beliefs about who you should be or what you should be doing. I’ve had team members come into my office and say, “By the time I’m 30, I want to be a CEO.” These are extrinsic beliefs, not intrinsic beliefs. You need to know for yourself: Where are your lines? Which lines are you not going to cross? What really matters to you? What are you going to go to bat for and fight for, even if your job is on the line?” That's when you can be the best you can be. That's when you'll do your best work.

I’m grateful to be at Google, which is an extraordinary company when it comes to accepting all the “others” and working actively to promote respect and inclusion. As a leader, I have a desire to mentor and help others find their sweet spot and thrive, and it’s important to me that no one feels like the “other” on our team. No doubt, we have work to do in our workplace and community, but I see green shoots of progress every day. I’m so excited to see the green shoots blossom!

Tech Exchange students reflect on their future careers

What if this was your day? At 10 a.m., explore the impact of cybersecurity on society. Over lunch, chat with a famous YouTuber. Wrap up the day with a tour of the Google X offices. Then, head home to work on a machine intelligence group project.

Sound out of the ordinary? For the 65 students participating in Google’s Tech Exchange program, this has been their reality over the last nine months.

Tech Exchange, a student exchange program between Google and 10 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), hosts students at Google’s Mountain View campus and engages them in a variety of applied computer science courses. The curriculum includes machine learning, product management, computational theory and database systems, all co-taught by HBCU/HSI faculty and Google engineers.

Tech Exchange is one way Google makes long-term investments in education in order to increase pathways to tech for underrepresented groups. We caught up with four students to learn about their experiences, hear about their summer plans and understand what they’ll bring back to their home university campuses.

Taylor Roper

Taylor Roper

Howard University

Summer Plans:BOLD Internship with the Research and Machine Intelligence team at Google

What I loved most:“If I could take any of my Tech Exchange classes back to Howard, it would be Product Management. This was such an amazing class and a great introduction into what it takes to be a product manager. The main instructors were Googlers who are currently product managers. Throughout the semester, we learned how design, engineering and all other fields interpret the role of a product manager. Being able to ask experts questions was very insightful and helpful.”

Vensan Cabardo

Vensan Cabardo

New Mexico State University

Summer Plans:Google’s Engineering Practicum Program

Finding confidence and comrades:“As much as I love my friends back home, none of them are computer science majors, and any discussion on my part about computer science would fall on deaf ears. That changed when I came to Tech Exchange. I found people who love computing and talking about computing as much as I do. As you do these things and as you travel through life, there may be a voice in your head telling you that you made it this far on sheer luck alone, that you don’t belong here, or that your accomplishments aren’t that great. That’s the imposter syndrome talking. That voice is wrong. Internalize your success, internalize your achievements, and recognize that they are the result of your hard work, not just good luck.”

Pedro Luis Rivera Gómez

Pedro Luis Rivera Gómez

University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez

Summer Plans:Software Engineering Internship at Google

The value of a network:“A lesson that I learned during the Tech Exchange program that has helped a lot is to establish a network and promote peer-collaboration. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and when we are working on a project and do not have much experience, you can get stuck on a particular task. Having a network increases the productivity of the whole group. When one member gets stuck, they can ask a peer for advice.”

Garrett Tolbert

Garrett Tolbert

Florida A&M University

Summer Plans:Applying to be a GEM Fellow

Ask all the questions: “One thing I will never forget from Tech Exchange is that asking questions goes beyond the classroom. Everyone in this program has been so accessible and helpful with accommodating me for things I never thought were possible. Being in this program has showed me that if you don’t know, just ask! Research the different paths you can take within tech, and see which paths interest you. Then, find people who are in those fields and connect with them.”