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In 2021, Google announced a new partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF). The  Grow with Google Career Readiness Program aims to embed student job seeker resources into select historically Black college and university (HBCU) career services centers to help 100,000 HBCU students gain digital skills to be successful in the workplace.

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According to Google, during the 2021-2022 school year the program trained 20,000 Black students in professional digital skills. TMCF says the effort will continue into the 2022-2023 school year, expanding to 40 HBCUs and training a total of 100,000 HBCU students by 2025.

This week, Jackson State University (JSU) announced that the HBCU is joining the tech initiative that helps Black college students prepare for the workforce through digital skills training and career workshops.

According to JSU, the Grow with Google HBCU Career Readiness Program builds on Google’s ongoing investments in HBCU students and commitment to creating pathways to tech.  Since 2013, the Google In Residence program has placed Google software engineers at HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions as faculty.

“Jackson State University is about producing talent to meet the needs of an evolving society, and our partnership with Google is a reflection of this,” said JSU President Thomas K. Hudson in a statement. “An important part of our mission, as an institution of higher learning, is adding to the continuum of workforce development and equipping our students to address emerging technologies to improve the world around us.”

Lashanda W. Jordan, Ph.D., who is executive director of the Career Services Center at JSU, works with the College of Science, Engineering, and Technology to provide this opportunity to students.

“The Grow with Google HBCU Career Readiness program will offer our students a competitive edge in obtaining additional knowledge and skills in technology that will enhance their chances of finding internships and career opportunities in the ever-growing digital and technological fields,” said Jordan.

Jacqueline M. Jackson, Ph.D., interim department chair in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Computer Science, told JSU that the program provides students access to additional curriculum, workshops, and resources that will assist them in the development of professional, technical, and soft skills required to secure jobs in the tech industry.

“Students who participate in the program will complete self-assessments, meet with a career counselor to explore career options and develop a career plan, build a personal brand and a professional network, and participate in activities to enhance their behavioral and technical mock interviewing skills,” said Jackson.

U.S. Rep Bennie Thompson said that digital skills training in the 21st-century economy could help distinguish job seekers from others. “I’m pleased to see Jackson State University join Google’s Career Readiness program, which provides HBCUs with the resources, digital skills training, and career support students need to thrive,” he said.

“A central part of the mission of TMCF is to prepare the next generation of workforce talent. Our partnership with Google enables this mission and ensures students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities are positioned to compete for meaningful careers,” said Harry L. Williams, Ed.D., president and CEO of Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

Starting in 2020, the Grow with Google HBCU Career Readiness Program provides HBCU career centers with funding and a semester-long in-person and online digital skills program. The program combines existing Grow with Google workshops with custom job seeker content for Black students, including design thinking, project management, and professional brand building. TMCF, which contributes to the program’s design, works with HBCU career centers to onboard the program.

“Every student should have the opportunity to learn digital skills for today’s in-demand jobs,” said Tia McLaurin, community engagement manager, Google. “We’re proud to work with Thurgood Marshall College Fund to bring the Grow with Google HBCU Career Readiness Program to Jackson State University to help more students prepare for the workforce and thrive as they start their careers.”

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