Viet Tran, Young & Recessioned: You Can't Be Afraid To Be Goofy

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Today's installment of Young & Recessioned features Viet Tran, a 27-year-old University of Houston grad who has used reality TV, YouTube episodes and street corner stunts to find his dream job.

I went into commercial real estate right after I graduated. I did that for about three years. I had a son, and then the market collapsed. I wanted to continue in real estate, but at the same time, I couldn't survive.

I went back to P.F. Chang's. I worked there the longest time, starting in high school then four years during college. I kept working there at night when I was doing real estate during the day. P.F. Chang's kept me afloat when I was learning the business and trying to make big deals.

I ended up getting a lead through one of my customers and got an internship, then got hired full time. It was a financial software company.

But I was applying for a lot of jobs. You feel like you're just shooting your résumé through a worm hole. From that experience, I realized I needed to do something different.

When I was looking for a job, I needed to do something on the side. I saw a girl on YouTube who does videos about how to put on makeup. I told my buddy we should do a cooking show. Next thing you know, "Tran Can Cook" was born.

We won a contest for Food Network. It was a sister Web site called Food Tube Food2.com. We won the Summer Challenge. We actually got second place, but we got the most amount of votes. Now they want to have our Web series on the Web site.

In the middle of March, we applied to be on a major network reality show. We made it in, and they flew us out to Los Angeles. We got to meet some good celebrities. We got on the show but we got cut off first.

It's going to be on this fall, and I'm hoping a lot of good things come from that. At the same time, I have to feed my family, so I have to get out there and find a job.

I left my job on good terms, and I expected to come back and at least re-apply for my position. After I got back from the reality show, I went back to see where things stood but didn't get much of a response. I just stood around in the office for two hours.

As bad as the job market is, you have to stand out. You can't just have your résumé and cover letter and send it out. That's what college teaches you to do, but I want results.

I have a buddy, a friend of a friend, and he put on a sign that said, "Win a Chance to Hire Me." He did that in downtown, and he ended up being on CNN. They allowed him to have a 30-second commercial. Google found him and hired him.

I'm going to try what [my friend] did. I got all my materials together, went to Hobby Lobby, bought a big board and fluorescent letters and made my sign.

Today was successful [standing on the corner]. I met a guy from University of Houston, and I got a really good contact from Accenture, a consulting group. I'm excited about that one and hope he calls me back.

I handed out about 15 résumés. My main goal is to have four or five interviews next week.

It sounds kind of goofy and kind of lame, but if you want results, you have to do something.

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Got a tale to tell about being Young & Recessioned? E-mail Paul Knight at paul.knight@houstonpress.com.

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