We reached out to Karla Larriva to do a photo shoot with us and she brought along her friend Sophia Pandey as moral support and personal stylist. These two met while doing internships in Microsoft’s IT department and immediately became good friends. We had a really fun photo shoot showing off both of their passions, talents and well as penchants for awesome cocktail rings!
Tell us a little about you.
Karla: I was born and raised in Ecuador, although I’m currently living in Utah pursuing a Computer Engineering degree at Brigham Young University in Provo. This Summer I’m a Program Manager intern for ECO-Operations under MSIT, where I’m in charge of the well-being of a project which will be used to report service health of systems in our organization.
I chose Computer Engineering because I like software and hardware - I get to do the fun part of both worlds. When I’m not in school or working I love to go dancing, especially bachata, salsa and merengue.
Sophia: I’m about to start my senior year of college at Western Washington University, but this summer I’m doing a 2nd Microsoft internship as a Business Program Management intern in ECO under MSIT. I’ve been working on the Windows 10 launch, focused specifically on the internal and customer-facing support tools - it’s been an amazing experience to have been a part of!
In my free time I’m passionate about capturing moments through photography, creating art with watercolors, attempting to master yoga, hiking, baking delicious desserts (I’ve mastered a killer macaron recipe), and finally traveling the globe.
I love being able to go to new places around the world and embrace new cultures and have memorable experiences by getting out of my comfort zone. This year I’ve started going on new adventures that I’ve been putting off for far too long; I went skydiving this spring, tried paddle boarding, attempted the flying trapeze (running away and joining the circus is no longer a viable career path), and my goal is to go bungee jumping and parasailing before I graduate in June!
Tell us about what you’re wearing.
Karla: My jewelry is made of Tagua nut (aka vegetable ivory), a common type of jewelry in Ecuador (similar necklace here).
My more formal outfit is something that I usually wear for big meetings or Church. The high heels I am wearing with it are my “trooper” heels! They are my go-to heels when I need to go dancing, church or presentations. (Similar super comfy heels here)
Sophia: My rings are souvenirs from trip to Greece and are great mementos - I love being able to get clothing and accessories from various place I visit because they’re great reminders of fun trips. Among my favorites are a leather jacket I got in Venice, a bomber jacket from Barcelona, and a beautiful hand-embroidered bag from Jaipur.
How did your style evolve to what it is now?
Karla: I went through different phases of style throughout High School until I found the type of fashion that I like: playful and chic. Two examples;
For my sweet 15’s (Quinceañera), the party decorations were Turquoise and light green, and that’s how I realised that they’re two of my favorite colors - the colors that speak to you and about you.
In addition, I love pokemon, digimon, anime, etc. I always carry with me my pokemon wallet - I find my style by just being myself.
Sophia: My style has evolved with me over time. Lately I’ve started experimenting with bolder, more expressive, statement pieces – having a job has certainly helped with that evolution too :)
Any advice for a young person thinking about getting into a STEM field?
Karla: Get into the field! If you have passion, STEM isn’t as hard as people think - so don’t let what society says define you :)
The number of girls in STEM is getting bigger and bigger. Be a part of it - don’t miss out!
Sophia: I didn’t take my first coding class until I was in my sophomore year of college - I had always talked myself out of trying a coding class because I had a preconceived notion that people who loved computer science had to fit a certain stereotype. I also assumed that I wasn’t smart enough to be a engineer/software developer, and it wasn’t until I finally got the nerve to sign up for a programming class that I learned to love it.
My overall advice - don’t make assumptions about what you like and dislike before you try it, and don’t limit yourself because of your own fears. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish if you get out of your own way.
What would you say is the project you’ve done that you’re proudest of?
Sophia: I couldn’t narrow it down to just one, so here are my two proudest project accomplishments thus far:
- This spring I applied for the VP of Operations position in the Student Marketing Association of Western Washington University and was thrilled to be selected for the role. I’m already having a blast reaching out to marketing professionals across the industry and recruiting them to come and share their insights on campus.
- I’m also proud to be teaching myself all about Tableau Software this summer. I’m not doing it to get a grade in a class, and it isn’t a requirement for me to graduate - I’m doing it because I’m fascinated by data science and decided to challenge myself.
What is the best way (if any) for people to follow you on social media?
And there you have it! We loved spending the afternoon with Karla and Sophia and hearing about their friendship, their Microsoft IT internships as well as their adventures dancing, hiking, baking, yoga and …jumping out of planes! We loved this friendship post so much that we’ve decided to make it a thing and will feature many more groups of friends :)
Dona + Beth