Liquid Web Marketing and Web Operations Manager about the challenges and joys of working in tech, how her kids keep her motivated, and the hand of her high school friend to help her get started in the field.
Elva Sandoval was born and raised in Southern California, in North Hollywood. “My parents immigrated to the United States from Mexico when they were young, so I grew up in a bilingual, Hispanic home,” she says.
Sandoval learned early on the importance of collaboration and hard work. A cheerleader his freshman year, he quickly switched to playing basketball due to his height. (Sandoval is 5’9″). “Basketball helped make me who I am today,” he says. “I learned to be a ‘team’ player and to work hard to achieve results. My teammates and I shed our blood, sweat and tears each season, and that helped build the stamina we would need for real life scenarios…”
While still a high school student (and playing Varsity basketball), Sandoval got her first job, working for an e-commerce company called WickedCoolStuff.com. She moved from the warehouse to customer service and eventually to the creative and marketing department, where she helped photograph merchandise for the website and designed email campaigns and graphics. “At the same time, she was learning html/css thanks to MySpace,” she says. “I found myself designing Div Overlays for local bands to make their myspace profiles look like an original, brand-themed website.”
As he got older, Sandoval moved away from web design because he didn’t think he could do it full time as a paid career. “I didn’t have a lot of confidence in myself or my skill set. So I ended up in a retail sales job working for T-Mobile,” she says. After working in retail for six years, Sandoval returned to college to pursue a career in web design and interactive media. “After four years at The Art Institute of Hollywood, I graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in exactly that: web design and interactive media. It was also the perfect timing, because it was at a time when the world wide web started to grow. I have worked professionally in technology for almost eight years,” she says.
Sandoval says that his high school friend, Fernando, was the most impactful of the many people who have influenced his career path. “He gave me my first pirated copy of Photoshop, sorry! And he showed me the ropes when it came to styling div overlays. It might have been a different story for me and my future career if it hadn’t been for him showing me what he was doing with his designs.” What Fernando taught her immediately caught her interest and, because of her experiences with Fernando, she felt comfortable going back to school years later to pursue web design professionally.
Sandoval is now the Manager of Marketing and Web Operations at Liquid Web. “I am specifically responsible for the website,” she says. “I work daily to improve the user experience and Liquidweb.com design and performance. I manage a team of front-end designers and developers who help me do that.”
Sandoval loves the challenges that come with working in technology. “It’s so fast and always changing and evolving that it keeps you on your toes. You learn something new every day, and there is no “right” or “wrong” when it comes to the web. There are many different approaches to optimizing, designing, and building a website.” Ultimately, Sandoval loves to collaborate and share ideas with others. “I never try to come up with the ‘perfect’ layout the first time. The most successful and impactful projects have always been the ones where I iterate on at least two or three different designs,” he says.
He learned determination and the importance of hard work from an early age. “My parents did a great job modeling a good work ethic. I wanted to make them proud.” Her two children are also great motivators for Sandoval. “I continually work hard to be a good example for them,” she says.
A single mother, she recently became a homeowner at the age of 35. “Working in technology and being able to work remotely has given me the work/life balance I’ve always dreamed of. I can take care of my two children at the same time that I can support them and be there for them when they need me. Just amazing!”
Sandoval says the field was still dominated by men when she started in tech. “Now, honestly, it’s a very good mix, which is incredible to witness. The more women in tech, the more likely you are to have a more diverse product offering. Men in tech generally design for men, and now we’ll start to see a lot more designed for women. It’s kind of refreshing,” she says.
If she could give women just starting out in tech one piece of advice, Sandoval would encourage them to explore. “Be very open and willing to start from scratch, and be open to learning and exploring all the different roles available in technology. There are so many different paths you can take. Nothing is linear.”