Sky's the Limit 14 Nov 2023

Advancing Careers and Businesses with Google


Jesse Haines is the Managing Director of Grow with Google, the company's $1 billion initiative that has helped over 10 million Americans grow their skills, careers, and businesses. With over a decade of experience at Google, she has played a crucial role in shaping emerging products and platforms while championing social impact efforts. Before joining the search engine giant, Jesse was the VP of Brand Development at Tommy Hilfiger and a consultant for Bain & Company. Jesse also serves on the board of directors of Literacy Partners.


Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Jesse Haines' career pivotal moments 
  • The importance of going to business school
  • How the Grow with Google program started
  • Tips for young individuals seeking mentors or sponsors 
  • Tactics for answering challenging interview questions
  • How Jesse stays up-to-date on current events
  • Advice for entrepreneurs and those beginning new careers

In this episode…

Is your career search in limbo? Finding a job can be a daunting experience, but there are steps you can take to make it less stressful. First, start with a list of interests, research jobs and companies in that niche, and practice your interviewing skills.

If the above tips still upset you, business executive Jesse Haines recommends the Grow with Google program. The initiative provides training, tools, and expertise to various groups, including small business owners, veterans, job seekers, educators, and developers. Through partnerships with over 9,000 organizations, Grow with Google has helped more than 10 million Americans develop new skills. So, how does the program work?

In this episode of The First Buck Podcast, Nicolas Cary joins Jesse Haines, Managing Director of Grow with Google, to discuss the Grow with Google program. Jesse shares how the program came to fruition, the Google Career Certificate program that helps individuals gain entry-level job readiness in tech fields, and recommendations for new entrepreneurs and career seekers. If you’re in the job market or pondering a career pivot, this is one episode you don’t want to miss. Tune in now!

Sponsor for this episode:

This episode is brought to you by Sky’s The Limit, one of the largest nonprofit programs for underrepresented young adult entrepreneurs in the US. Sky’s The Limit is a quick-growing digital platform that connects entrepreneurs with their peers, volunteer business mentors, training resources, and funding.

Our goal is to develop the social capital that founders need to chase their business dreams.

To learn more, please visit today.

Episode transcript

Intro  0:04  

Welcome to The First Buck Podcast, where we feature stories about entrepreneurs and the people who support them. Now, let's get started with the show.

Nicolas Cary  0:21  

Hello, and welcome to The First Buck Podcast brought to you by We feature stories about entrepreneurs and the people who support them. Today we're joined by Jesse Haines, the Senior Director of Grow with Google, the tech companies Economic Opportunity Initiative. Grow with Google started in 2017. To help Americans grow their skills, career and businesses. It provides training, tools, and expertise to small business owners, veterans, and military families, job seekers and students, educators, startups and developers. Since Grow with Google's inception, it has helped more than 10 million Americans develop new skills, growth, Google has a network of more than 9000 partner organizations like libraries, schools, small business development centers, chambers of commerce, and nonprofits to help them across the country. We are the very grateful recipient of the Google Ad grant as well at And I'm so excited to have Jesse here today. So Jesse, we've got a little tradition here. How did you earn your first buck?

Jesse Haines  1:19  

I think my first buck probably came from good old fashion, babysitting. I was known in my neighborhood as being good with kids. And, and so was called around my street, and then eventually my neighborhood. And I think that is my babysitting career that might have led to my eventual first job as a teacher.

Nicolas Cary  1:45  

Ah, okay, cool. Yeah, I love asking this question. Because almost everybody starts off as an entrepreneur, they use the things that they have around them, their neighborhood, their resources, friendships and relationships, to earn that first book and kind of go down the pathway of financial independence and financial literacy. So from earning your first buck to becoming a teacher, walk us through maybe some of those steps in your early career that maybe pivotal moments are sort of led to you having more and more responsibility. Yeah.

Jesse Haines  2:13  

So I went to college and graduated really wanting to change the world, you know, typical, idealistic college student. And so I went actually, my first my first actual job right out of college was working for a nonprofit organization. And it was called, Save the Children. I mean, you know, doesn't get more idealistic than that, and Save the Children is a great organization. They work internationally. I was in an office, and I was wearing, like pantyhose every day, and I did not feel like I was saving the children. And so I pivoted into, into teaching, I went and I worked in high school, I taught high school history and English. And I think a big sort of realization I had for both of those experiences. Was that, okay, as a nonprofit, I didn't feel like I was really like proximate. And, and, and I got into a school and I felt like I was making a difference in the lives of kids. But I wanted to do that in a bigger way. And talk to some mentors, and they should learn about business school. And I said, I'm, you know, I'm a do gooder. I'm a teacher, a business school. And they said, Yeah, business school, and their advice. And I went to business school, and I was sure I'd be like, the only person who never worked at the business in business school. And I wasn't, there were lots of different kinds of folks at business school. And I did learn a lot of really practical skills that brought that carried me through to the next sort of phases of my life, and ultimately, helped me get a job here at Google.

Nicolas Cary  3:55  

I like this story a lot. You can see a thread of service through all of it from babysitting to the nonprofit world to being a teacher. So talk to us a little bit about your role at Google and grow with Google specifically. We'd love to learn a little bit more about that.

Jesse Haines  4:12  

Yeah, so I've been at Google for a while and definitely have had what some people call a jungle gym career path, I have not climbed the corporate ladder, I have gone a little to the left and a little to the right, and maybe taking a step back. But I'm always pursuing interesting opportunities where I felt like I would grow or I felt like I could work with really smart people that I could learn from. And so I worked in b2b marketing and I worked in hardware but but I've always had this passion as you guys know now for for education, and especially kind of figuring out that intersection between education and technology, which is another area where I've have a lot of passion. And about six years ago, I got an opportunity He to work with an old boss of mine to create a program to help bring the opportunities that technology creates to everyone. And we caught it grow with Google. And as you mentioned, in your introduction, this program is all about helping small businesses and job seekers. Learn about technology because no matter what job you have, you need digital skills to grow your business. And when you look at job seekers today, you know, there's digital basics. And then there's just about any job you have requires some level of digital skills, but it's hard to get those. And so we wanted to make that easier for everyone, no matter your background, your education level where you lived. That was about six years ago, and we've trained 10 million Americans. And it's been an incredible opportunity and experience building Grow with Google from the ground up with the help of so many partners, internally and externally, and to see that transformative effect that's having on the lives of so many people.

Nicolas Cary  6:09  

That's an incredible statistic. And in the impact of 10 million people having more technological knowledge to achieve things they want to do in their careers or businesses is really quite a testament to the work you guys have done. What's the let's talk a little bit about that curriculum, I guess? What are the sort of most popular most useful things? Grow with Google, you know, what are you guys measuring? That seems to be the most impactful there.

Jesse Haines  6:36  

So we have a small portfolio of different types of programs. But the one that's really emerged as truly impactful, it's called Google Career Certificate. And this is a program that's available online. And it takes people from no experience to entry level job ready in tech fields, fields that are growing fields that hey, well fields like user experience, design, IT support data analytics, we just launched a new Google Career Certificate and cybersecurity, which is a super hot field right now. And so like I said, you don't have to have any experience to take one of these online courses, it doesn't mean they're easy. And they shouldn't be because at the end, if you can complete this course and get the certificate, you really are eligible for entry level jobs in these fast growing fields. And we've partnered with a bunch of employers, we have a hiring consortium of over gosh, I think over 150 big companies like Bank of America, and Walmart. And of course, Google's in this group that are ready to hire these graduates. Because we think it's really important not only to help people get the skills, but also to help them really connect with jobs. And that's where the employers come in. And so Google Career Certificate is truly been transformative, we have seen people go from, you know, working at retail into IT support jobs at Infosys. And we are really, and that's and that's what it's all about, at the end of the day is transformation, and great jobs that lead to great careers.

Nicolas Cary  8:31  

I love that. And I think what's important is it throughout your whole career, like finding new skills, and sharpening your skills is useful, whether you're at the beginning of that process in the middle of it, or at any point in your career. And also, whether you're a small company, or big one, investing in yourself and in your career is going to be super important. So check out Google Career Certificates from Google for that. So one of the things you mentioned a little bit earlier, and I wanted to ask you a bit about it. You said you had sought some advice from mentors across your career. Let's talk a bit about that. How important has mentorship in in your career? And how has the social capital of those around you played a role in your journey? Yeah,

Jesse Haines  9:11  

mentors have been super important. And I can think of one mentor in particular, who who was really, really important to me in my early days at Google, you know, as I, as I mentioned, I was a teacher and then I went to business school. And I guess I've always carried a little bit of that impostor syndrome with me even when I got the job at Google. I'm like, I don't know maybe they made a mistake. I'm still just like, teacher, you know, ninth grade English teacher, what do I know? And you know, there's a lot of conversation about kind of like mentorship and sponsorship and and this guy Mike was both of those for me. He not only gives me good career advice, but he also really pushed me He pushed me into opportunities that I probably would have shied away from challenges that I might not have taken on my own. And when I was kind of strongly encouraged into those challenges and opportunities by Mike, who really believed in me, I started to believe in myself, and I found that I could do it. And I could be successful. And sometimes you just need that nudge and that person who believes in you, and I really think that is, I think what we're the word these days is sponsorship, and I think it's really important to find that mentor, and that sponsor, that person who's going to really advocate for you, it's made a huge difference in my career.

Nicolas Cary  10:42  

Yeah, it's so interesting that one of the common threads through all the interviews we've gotten, almost everyone has at least one sort of special sponsor or mentor. And the common thread is always that they, they sort of made them all just a little bit uncomfortable, when in terms of the challenging them, but also what that comes with is just sort of this, when someone believes in you, that sort of belief kind of becomes contagious. And that can sort of give you that confidence to go take those extra little steps to speak up for yourself, to advocate a little bit more for a perspective you have or something you want to do with a task or a role or responsibility, and it's so critical to find those. So what advice would you give to a young person out there? You know, who's sort of struggling to maybe find a mentor, we know, where can they? What's something that they should consider? How would they go about maybe trying to find a sponsor? You know, what advice would you give just for someone looking to, to actually cultivate a relationship like that?

Jesse Haines  11:39  

I think that part of forging a mentor, mentee relationship is finding, you know, common ground, and also sort of helping to let that person wherever they are get to get to know you. So, you know, it's, it's hard to just walk up to somebody and say, Hey, will you be my sponsor? Or will you be my mentor? I think a good way to first do that is to say, you know, hey, I'm working on X, Y, and Z, and I'm stuck here, you know, what would you do? And then really start to sort of develop a true authentic relationship that that that mentorship relationship can emerge from?

Nicolas Cary  12:32  

That's great advice. Cool. So I imagine in your career, you've probably had to hire a decent number of people. So what is sort of your maybe favorite interview question or? Yeah, talk to us a little bit about, you know, how you go about building a team.

Jesse Haines  12:47  

Hiring is so important. And I have interviewed quite a few people over the years. And one of my go to questions has has is at the end of the interview, I always ask what's the one question that I forgot to ask you? 

Nicolas Cary  12:47  

Nice jujitsu. 

Jesse Haines  12:50  

You can learn a lot from this question. Sometimes someone will say, No, I think you've covered everything. And that's generally not the best way to answer that question. What I'm doing with that question is opening up the door, to say to this person to say, hey, like, tell me, you know, something super interesting that just didn't come up in the interview or pitch me on why this job is, you know, the job of your dreams. And so it was open ended it really you can really learn a lot about the person in how they either like, jump into that question or or not. But if anyone ever asked you that question, my advice: lean hard into it, the great,

Nicolas Cary  13:59  

I think it's a, it's a great invitation to basically sort of reveal something to the interviewer about you that you could teach them about, you know, something that's important to you. And it's really an invitation to shine. I think that's a great one, I may I may have to borrow that one Jesse to good suggestion.

Jesse Haines  14:14  

I'm telling you, it's, it's it's a winner.

Nicolas Cary  14:18  

So let's see this busy world these days. There's a lot changing, both in the tech landscape. And obviously, there's a lot of concern, and you hear from the press in the media about inflation and, you know, prices that are going up and job market. So how are you keep up with the news? And how do you also sort of stay grounded? You know, if you maybe read a good book this year, you could recommend, give us a little bit of perspective there.

Jesse Haines  14:42  

Well, quick plug there are you can you can set up alerts and news alerts in Google. So I've got a couple of those setups, so on some specific keywords just so I don't miss anything. And then there's just a couple of newsletters that I read, you know, very diligently read every morning, I listened to the daily podcast on my on my way home from dropping my kids off of school. So that makes me feel smarter right off the bat. There's a great newsletter from Axios. That just helps me stay up to date on what's going on. Um, the Markle Foundation puts out a really good newsletter that's about kind of like the sort of workforce development. And so those are those are my real my go to for sure.

Nicolas Cary  15:33  

Yeah, I love that the Google News Alerts a good one, I think we'll need to build a guide and actually include that at the end of this podcast because I use those two. And it's one of the ways you get sort of really kind of unique stories about a specific topic or a keyword. And it's like a little hack in Google. that not enough people know about, so we'll definitely make sure we Yeah, I know. Exactly.

Jesse Haines  15:55  

Okay. Yeah, sure. It is. It's a great little hack. So many things that you can do with Google that,

Nicolas Cary  16:00  

yeah, it's super useful. Okay. So taking steps to pursue entrepreneurship or beginning a career can always be a bit scary. But maybe what tips would you give our listeners to sort of help them as they go on their entrepreneurial journey, starting their small business with ambitions to make it bigger someday? Yeah, what words of advice would you have?

Jesse Haines  16:21  

I would say. Be curious. Always be asking questions, or reaching out asking people that you admire about what they do. People really want to help entrepreneurs, you guys are people that are interesting to other people, they want to hear about you and what you're struggling with, and you know, your successes. So tell your story, ask questions. take smart risks. I talked about my jungle gym career path. Sometimes, you know, you know, doing the unexpected is leads to a more interesting and, and more productive for you path. So don't be afraid to take take smart risks. And then I mean, this is so cliche, but I really think it's, it's, it's true, you gotta trust your gut, like, people, you know, you're gonna get lots of advice. And that's great, too. But at the end of the day, like you got to make sure you're really tuning in to like you. And, and then, and then trusting yourself.

Nicolas Cary  17:38  

Yeah, I think entrepreneurs, that that idea of like listening to the instinct and the little voice in their head, I hear that from so many, they're like, I'm passionate about this thing. I don't know if anyone else is gonna care. And ultimately, a lot of it boils down to you do have to find something that you have some deep reservoirs of motivation to work on. But I love that perspective, you were sharing about being curious and seeking feedback and telling your story because ultimately, a lot of entrepreneurship is finding your product market fit or your market and putting yourself out there. And being open to criticism, addressing that criticism, improving the product or service you're developing, and continually working on that storytelling and, and like you said, people are inspired by those that take these, you know, these risks, the smart risks you talked about. And I think those are all very wise words of wisdom, for our entrepreneurial community. So, Jesse, thank you so much for sharing with us. Everything that Grow with Google is doing, from the certificate program to all the resources that are available online. I think almost every small business owner has to have some knowledge of Google in general and the tool sets it provides both for free and the paid ones that can help small businesses find customers get organized, do their accounting better communicate with their customers, and keep track of what's happening in their market and, and have a little bit of insight into how the world around them is changing. So thank you for everything Google does. At We connect underrepresented entrepreneurs with volunteer business professionals for free one on one mentoring. We also provide business guides to all of our mentors, and further funding opportunities. You can sign up for free today. And if you like what you heard, please subscribe and share. Thank you so much, Jesse. We really appreciate your time today.

Jesse Haines  19:25  

Thank you so much for having me love what you guys are doing. Really enjoyed our conversations. Great.

Nicolas Cary  19:30  

Cool. Thank you.

Outro  19:31  

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