Women in Technology: Elva Sandoval

Liquid Web’s Web Operations & Marketing Manager on the challenges and joys of working in tech, how her kids keep her motivated, and her high school friend’s hand in getting her started in the field.

“Be very open and willing to start from scratch, and be open to learning and exploring all the different roles available in tech. There are so many different paths you can take. Nothing is linear.”

Elva Sandoval was born and raised in Southern California, in North Hollywood. “My parents migrated to the United States from Mexico when they were young, and so I was brought up in a Hispanic & bilingual household,” she says.

Sandoval learned early on the importance of collaboration and hard work. A cheerleader in her freshman year, she quickly transitioned to playing basketball because of her height. (Sandoval is 5’9″.) “Basketball helped shape me into who I am today,” she says. “I learned how to be a ‘team’ player and work hard to achieve results. My teammates and I poured our blood, sweat, and tears into every season, and it helped build the endurance we’d need for real-life scenarios..”

While she was still a high school student (and playing Varsity basketball), Sandoval landed her first job, working for an e-commerce company called WickedCoolStuff.com. She moved her way up from the warehouse to customer service and eventually into their marketing and creative department, where she helped photograph the merchandise for the website and designed email campaigns and graphics. “At the same time, I was learning html/css, thanks to MySpace,” she says. “I found myself designing Div Overlays for local bands so that their myspace profiles would look like an original website that was themed with their branding.”

As she got older, Sandoval stepped away from Web Design because she didn’t think she could do it full-time as a paid career. “I wasn’t very confident in myself or my skill set. So I ended up at a retail sales job working for T-Mobile,” she says. After working retail for six years, Sandoval returned to college to pursue a Web Design and Interactive Media career. “After four years at The Art Institute of Hollywood, I graduated in 2015 with a Bachelor’s Degree in exactly that—Web Design & Interactive Media. It was perfect timing, too, because it was at a point in time when the world wide web started to boom. I’ve been professionally working in tech for almost eight years,” she says.

Sandoval says her high school friend, Fernando, was the most impactful among the many people who have influenced her career journey. “He gave me my first bootleg copy of Photoshop—sorry! And he showed me the ropes when it came to designing 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.

Now, Sandoval is a Web Operations & Marketing Manager at Liquid Web. “I’m specifically responsible for the website,” she says. “I work daily on improving the user experience and design of Liquidweb.com and its performance. I manage a team of designers and front-end developers that help me do that.”

Sandoval loves the challenges that come with working in tech. “It’s so fast-paced and always changing and evolving that it does keep 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 collaborating and bouncing ideas off of others. “I never try to design the ‘perfect’ design 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,” she says.

She learned determination and the importance of hard work from an early age. “My parents did a great job of modeling a good work ethic. I wanted to make them proud.” Her two children are also big motivators for Sandoval. “I continuously work hard to be a good example to them,” she says.

A single mother, she recently became a homeowner at the age of 35. “Working in tech and being able to work remotely has given me the work-life balance I had always dreamed of. I am able to tend to my two kiddos while also being able to provide for them and be there for them whenever they need me. Simply amazing!”

Sandoval says that the field was still male-dominated when she first started in tech. “Now, it’s honestly a very good mix, which is so amazing to witness. The more women there are in tech, the better chance of having a more diverse product offering. Men in tech typically design for men, and now we’ll start to see a lot more being designed for women. It’s a refreshing thing,” she says.”

If she could give one piece of advice to women just starting in tech, 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 tech. There are so many different paths you can take. Nothing is linear.”