Creating a Pathway to Tech for Underrepresented Talent: Exploring Google’s Tech Exchange Program

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Jenn Marroquin. Photo courtesy of Google.

Jenn Marroquin. Photo courtesy of Google.

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Fairygodboss
April 13, 2024 at 12:44AM UTC

Jenn Marroquin knows the importance of creating pathways to the tech industry for underrepresented talent. As a child of immigrant parents from Guatemala, she recalls the challenge of navigating through college and her early career without mentorship from people who have experienced these systems before. This experience served as a catalyst for her lifelong passion for helping underrepresented students navigate these spaces and build long-term, successful careers in tech.

Now, at Google, Marroquin has found a company that matches her passion for creating a pipeline for underrepresented talent, as well her ideal role — being the program manager for Google’s Tech Exchange program

In this role, Marroquin is able to positively impact the lives of hundreds of students at a time by preparing the next generation of Black, Latinx, and Native computer science students to join the tech industry. And, as she emphasizes, Tech Exchange’s impact expands beyond its cohort, too.

“You're not just changing one person,” explains Marroquin. By empowering students to enter the tech industry, the program is creating a pathway toward economic opportunity and empowerment for the student and those around them. In this way, Tech Exchange is also lifting up participants’ “families and the communities around them,” she says. 

Here, Marroquin took the time to share more about this program with us, how it’s creating a positive impact, and more.

A quick look at the Google Tech Exchange program.

Wondering what Tech Exchange entails? In short, it’s a semester-long virtual academic program for students attending select Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) in North America. By participating in the program, students are able to learn applied computer science and problem solving skills, all while building social capital and community among Black+, Latinx+ and Native+ students at the partner schools.

“This program’s original mission was to help Black and Latinx students in tech,” explains Marroquin. “So, I’m trying to be really intentional about who this is for, creating space for them, and making them feel like they belong here with the connections that they're making.” Additionally, “one of the beautiful things about this program is that the students receive course credit for completing their classes with us,” shares Marroquin. Through the combined efforts of Google software engineers, product managers, and machine learning researchers in collaboration with leading faculty, students are able to stay engaged, grow, and find amazing mentors.

Beyond the inherent benefits of the program itself, Tech Exchange is also very successful at building a pipeline for former participants to join the tech community as future Googlers. In fact, Marroquin tells us that Google continues to hire a significant portion of the Tech Exchange cohort each year. 

As for how the program achieves all of this, Marroquin emphasizes the dedication and passion of everyone working on Tech Exchange, from the core team to the many volunteers. “We would not be able to do this without our group of people who believe in making the industry more representative,” says Marroquin.

Creating a better future with the Tech Exchange program.

Through Tech Exchange, Marroquin and her colleagues at Google are truly able to create more opportunities for students. 

For example, Marroquin recalls a student from Puerto Rico who took part in the program in 2021 while his mother was going through cancer treatments. The Tech Exchange team supported him when he had to modify his schedule to take her to appointments, provided recordings when he had to miss classes, and encouraged him throughout the process. “He was so grateful for being in a position where he could take these virtual classes with us,” states Marroquin. Today, he’s interviewing for a full-time position at Google, using the skills he gained in this program. And this is only one example of how this program is changing lives.

Every student has a story and challenges that they’re working through,” shares Marroquin. You can’t predict “how life-changing [this program] can be for students… and the impact you might have on their life.” 

As for what the future holds for Tech Exchange, well, it’s certainly looking bright! “We've had over 200 different schools request for Tech Exchange to be held at their school,” Marroquin tells us. So, for those interested in joining a future Tech Exchange cohort or developing the skills you need to enter the tech field — the opportunities to do so are only growing! 



Are you a student or know a student who may be interested in the Google Tech Exchange program? If so, you can learn about the program, benefits, and application process here. And, if you’re already in the workforce and looking for a job at Google, check out the link below.

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