Category Archives: working girl under thirty

a spotlight on start up san diego’s tech week, part one

KUSI’s Brad Perry reports live from the Hughes Marino office to kick off Startup San Diego’s SD Tech Week with Star Hughes and Jim Welch from Sotera Wireless.

As a sponsor of SD Tech Week, Hughes Marino was proud to host the 20/20 Mentor evening on July 10th, where 20 technology executives and successful entrepreneurs mentored 20 emerging technology companies in round-robin format.

three ways to differentiate yourself in an interview

In my twenty-two years, I’ve done my fair share of interviews, from applying to private high schools, colleges and graduate programs, to running for leadership positions in student organizations, to interviewing for jobs and internships, to being interviewed on TV! I’ve also been fortunate enough to sit in on numerous interviews for potential hires of my family’s business. It’s amazing to experience both sides of the table – the nervous, nail-biting side of the table, and the relaxed, inquisitive side too.



I don’t consider myself to be an expert on the subject, but over the years I’ve compiled a few “best practices” that I learned both through my own experiences and through the guidance of mentors. These are not for everyone – and they definitely aren’t for every industry – but who knows? Maybe they’ll give someone the confidence they need to nail an interview and land their dream job.

1. dress with personality

Us girls usually put so much thought into what professional, boxy, black or navy suit to wear to an important interview. We are taught in school to look as masculine as possible. No make-up. No earrings. Hair pulled back into a low pony tail or bun. No form-fitting clothes. And close-toed shoes ONLY. No peep toes allowed. You might as well skip the interview altogether if you even think about wearing strappy heels.

Throughout the past century, women were expected to hide their femininity so as to be seen on a level playing field as their male counterparts. But society is changing. Today, more and more women are embracing their femininity, their curves, their style, and their personalities.

Imagine a room full of women who look identical, showing little to no personality or cheer in their “look.” Now imagine that one woman is wearing a pink Kate Spade dress with a chunky, colored necklace. Who stands out?

dress with personality Source: Pinterest

Yes, we want to be evaluated based on our intelligence. But when all things are equal, who would likely get the job in this situation? The girl whose personality shines – the girl who exudes confidence.

You have a very limited time to show your true colors – so why not do it in the most obvious way possible? With your clothes.

2. tell your story

The best interviews are back and forth conversations. The interviewer asks you a question, you answer, you engage them with a question, and then the conversation flows from there. Interviews in which the interviewer asks the questions and the interviewee gives short responses without truly engaging are the worst – and might even put the interviewer to sleep.

Everyone loves to talk about their own experiences, share their backgrounds, and feel that other people are interested in what they have to say – including the interviewers! Ask questions. Show that you care and are interested in learning more about them. Plus, it’s a great way to get the conversation flowing! The more back-and-forth that the two of you have, the more of a connection you will build.

That being said, it is extremely important that you come prepared for an interview. Not in the handouts-and-flash-cards kind of way (though it IS very important to be well-versed on the company you are interviewing with), but in terms of telling your story.

You have one opportunity to pitch yourself. Tell your story.

How? Read the two sample interviews below. It is the same question – but two completely different stories.

Question: Where did you go to college?

Answer #1: I went to University of San Diego and graduated in 2010.

Answer #2: I decided to stay close to home and attend the University of San Diego. I’m a fourth-generation San Diegan – and nothing could get me to move from this amazing place! My family is here, my childhood was here, and I see this as my home forever. I thought about attending Georgetown, Cornell, and UCLA – but ultimately decided that pursuing an education in my end destination, San Diego, would be the best decision. All of my connections and experiences are here – which will be a huge asset when working for Company XYZ.

Notice a difference? It takes work to tell your story – and it definitely requires preparation. You have to really think about what made you who you are today and how your experiences shaped you. Every word you say should be deliberate, thoughtful, and help to express who you are.

3. focus on them, not you

Every sales book talks about the importance of focusing on the customer – NOT yourself. Take a look at the two below scenarios. Which one stands out?

Background: I am a vacuum salesperson hoping to make a new sale.

Pitch #1: XYZ Vacuums is the leading vacuum dealer in the world – we make more sales than any other vacuum company out there. We sell only the best vacuums, and our sales team can help you find the perfect, most energy-efficient, durable vacuum for your household.

Pitch #2: XYZ Vacuums will transform your life. With better, more durable, more energy efficient vacuums than any other vacuum company out there, you will have an unparalleled experience when cleaning your home. Not only will you save money on energy costs and have a vacuum that lasts a lifetime, but you will also enjoy a cleaner home because you bought the best product on the market.

Both pitches work – and sometimes it won’t make a difference in winning the business. The difference is that pitch #2 is relatable; it tells the customer WHY they should make the purchase. It directly tells them how the purchase of the vacuum will impact their lives, making it more of a necessity than a luxury purchase. It is about the experience – and undoubtedly is far more effective.

The same philosophy goes in an interview. You are pitching yourself – you are your own product. Instead of naming your skills and talents, explain how your skills and talents will make a positive impact on the company and make you an indispensable team member. So what you are organized? What matters is how your amazing organizational skills will completely revamp the company’s internal processes, streamlining what would normally be an arduous task simply by tidying things up a bit. Who cares that you are proficient at Excel? The interviewer will care when they learn how your Excel skills will benefit the company and the team as a whole. THAT’S what sets you apart.


star hughes living - no one can make you feel inferior without your consent

ahead of the curve

Star Hughes and Tucker Hughes, directors at Hughes Marino, explain how to save money and get a head start on your career by fast tracking your education.

If the video does not load immediately, please click here.

spotlight on: rudy francisco + some happy things

This last week, I had the opportunity to attend an amazing event – the Lawyers Club of San Diego Annual Dinner – to support the advancement of women in the legal community (and across all industries too). I left feeling overwhelmingly inspired and grateful. Inspired to make a difference like so many of the women honored at the event. Grateful for the opportunities I’ve been blessed with – and the hard work of so many women to achieve gender equality for all.

One of the highlights of the event to me was a “Spoken Word” artist, Rudy Francisco. He presented two poems, in a way that reminded me of slam poetry back in high school, but obiously on a much higher level, and one of them left the audience speechless.

In honor of Mother’s Day month, here is “For those who remind me of my mother.”

other happy things

A 30% off sale at Banana Republic – one of my favorite stores for work clothes – not to be missed! ENDS TODAY!

banana republic

Walks down a country trail…roses galore.

country trail

My dogs’ first day at my condo downtown…yes, Riley is sleeping on a “Hello Gorgeous” pillow.


working girl problem: comfy flats

So, I know this isn’t a real working girl problem. But for women that walk as much as I do for my job (touring clients through office space) – and for those of us that live/work in cities (though San Diego is more of a big town) – comfortable shoes are a must.

Now I love heels as much as the next girl…though I’m much less talented at walking in them than the average girl. Unfortunately, they’re just not realistic for walking the streets of downtown San Diego. So I’ve learned to adapt.

It’s taken many, many tries at finding the most comfortable flats on the market, and here are my top picks. I hope you find them helpful!

1. Patricia Green

I bought these shoes because I was drawn to the bright pink color…but realized that these are truly the most comfortable flats I have ever put on my foot. I feel like I am floating in slippers when wearing them. The squishy sole and soft material makes it heaven for tired feet. The best part? She sells them in every color. I also have these in red. When you find a good one, stock up!


2. Elie Tahari

These Elie Tahari shoes are again a shoe worth buying twice. I have these flats in black and orange! They are incredibly comfortable, flexible, and don’t constrict the foot like most patent leather flats do.


3. Coach

I originally bought these Coach flats for their color – they seemed like the perfect flats for spring and summer! Not to mention that the inside print is amazing…I love the contrast of the leopard and blue. Coach has mastered the flat with this shoe. I’ve tried several of their flats but always ended up with blistered feet and painful walking tours. These were different – and for that reason are in my top comfy flat picks!

Blue Coach

4.Via Spiga

These Via Spiga aren’t as fun as the first three…but they make up for it in comfort! I wanted some navy, slightly more professional flats…and the femininity of these shoes put me over the edge! These too are like walking on air…and after walking miles and miles, I have yet to have a blister.

Blue Via Spiga

5. Marc by Marc Jacobs

These are the prettiest red shoes I’ve ever seen – and I feel like Dorothy every time I wear them! The black bow adds the perfect amount of class, and the shape of the shoe fits my foot perfectly. No heels sliding out. No pinched toes. This is a great investment to liven up the office!


video: how to graduate college in two years

As some of you who have read my blog consistently might know, I graduated college in two years at age 19. My younger brother did too. It doesn’t make us any smarter than the next person – but it does require a lot of planning ahead, which we discuss in this video. For any parents that didn’t know this was an option for their kids, or any kids interested in fast tracking their success and their lives, I hope you enjoy the video below! I thought it was timely given that graduations are just around the corner!

Taking the Fast Track with Star and Tucker Hughes from Hughes Marino on Vimeo.

splash forward


inspirational women series: kathryn bigelow

The quality that I admire most about Kathyrn Bigelow is that she’s fearless. She’s not afraid of controversy. She’s not afraid to go against the status quo. And she’s not afraid of what others might think.

Kathyrn is the first woman to win the Best Director award in Oscar history – in addition to the first woman to win the Director’s Guild of America Award for directing AND the first woman to win a BAFTA Award for best director. Pretty darn impressive.


As a female director, she’s not afraid to go against the grain, working in genres that are typically very male-dominated. Her filme, The Hurt Locker, detailed a bomb squad’s dangerous role in the War in Iraq. Her most recent film, Zero Dark Thirty, chronicled the search for Osama Bin Laden…and while it was met with some controversy, it was my favorite non-romance-chick-flick movie yet.

A few things that I admire most about her:

1. She is a true artist. I didn’t realize this before, but Kathryn got started as a painter – and she even attended the San Francisco Art Institute! She then went on to study at Columbia University Film School. It’s clear through her work that she is a true artist – and it’s impressive for someone to have such passion for the arts in so many different mediums.

2. She likes to be challenged. Kathryn insisted on shooting her films in the Middle East – a decision that many companies avoid in favor of filming in Arizona, New Mexico, and other safer areas. According to Kathryn, “I like to direct those films that challenge my capabilities and demand complete dedication from me.” She is one tough lady! Even with the release of Zero Dark Thirty, and the controversy that ensued, she owned it. She’s not afraid to get uncomfortable.

3. She knows what she wants, and she’ll do whatever it takes to make it happen. According to Kathryn, “I’ve never made a non-independent movie. No matter what scale it’s been, it’s always been independent. So I wanted to retain complete creative control, I wanted final cut, I wanted the opportunity to cast breakout, emerging talent, and as I said, shoot in the Middle East.”

inspirational women series: maria bartiromo

maria bartiromo

While I don’t have an autographed headshot of Maria Bartiromo sitting on my desk at work like Ivanka, I’ve admired “Money Honey” for years. I used to watch her show, “The Wall Street Journal Report with Maria Bartiromo,” weekly with my dad just in awe of the incredible conversations she would have with global thought leaders. She was always so quick on her feet, knowledgeable about a wide variety of subjects, and clearly a very, very sharp woman. Her experiences are incredible – she was the first journalist to report live on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, has received countless prestigious awards, and has written a number of bestselling books (including one of my favorites, The Ten Laws of Enduring Success). She is passionate about business, communication and the news – and has become one of the most successful financial news anchors in history.

A few of her lessons that resonated with me the most are:

1. Think Long-Term.

One of Maria’s mentors once told her, “Maria, you have to think about where you see yourself in five years. Once you get that picture, then you have to work toward it now. That’s the best advice I can give you.” I’ve always had a very long-term focus with my own life – setting goals for the month, the year, the next five years, and even over the course of my entire life. I think it helps you stay focused on what matters most and keeps you moving in the right direction.

2. Work Your Butt Off.

Maria is the first to say that her biggest attribute to success is working really, really hard. “Don’t ever, ever, believe anyone who tells you that you can just get by, by doing the easiest thing possible. Because there’s always somebody behind you who really wants to do what you’re doing. And they’re going to work harder than you if you’re not working hard.” Growing up, I’ve heard the phrase “only the paranoid survive” over and over again – and this is exactly it. You can never become complacent, or someone else will outwork you.

3. Control Your Fate – Or Someone Else Will.

In The Ten Laws of Enduring Success, Maria talks about not letting circumstances happen to you – but actually creating your circumstances. “It’s such a basic idea — a centerpiece of success: You can’t go through life thinking that the tide will just move you along and take you where you want to be. You have to swim there. I know I don’t want people working for me who are just rolling along with the tide. I want the strong swimmers — and it’s okay with me if they falter sometimes, as long as they’re in there kicking, moving forward.”


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