2011-09-29 / Community
Agoura High alumnus shares career tips with students
Elex Michaelson is a persistent young man. The 2005 Agoura High School graduate knew from a young age the career path he wanted to follow and, despite fierce competition, Michaelson got what he wanted—a career as a television newscaster.
Now an ABC channel 7 reporter, Michaelson claims that his rise to success so early in life had everything to do with creating and capitalizing on every opportunity presented to him.
Michaelson, 24, shared his story at his alma mater on Sept. 13, giving hope to a classroom of students who will soon be facing a competitive job market.
Michaelson was asked by his former teachers Jason Busby and Deb Frank, who are teamteaching a government and economics class at AHS, to speak to their students about his success.
Michaelson had a career plan right out of high school—journalism.
“I love the news,” he said. “I love to watch history unfold.”
Michaelson was accepted to the University of Southern California but wasn’t immediately accepted in his first-choice major of journalism. Instead, he enrolled as a political science major and kept plugging away for acceptance into the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
He was one of three out of more than 100 students to be accepted into the school during a second round of applications.
Dogged perseverance was a main theme of Michaelson’s talk with students.
Landing an unpaid job was his first career hurdle.
Though a classmate’s father, Josh Kaplan, was the executive producer of KTTV’s “ Good Day L. A.,” Michaelson was surprised to discover he was not a shoe-in for an internship position on the show. Kaplan didn’t return Michaelson’s calls or emails.
But Michaelson persevered in his quest to meet with Kaplan.
“I chose the stalker route,” he said, explaining that he and his mother drove to the “Good Day L.A.” production studio in Santa Monica, parked the car in front of the security gate and waited until he could speak to Kaplan.
“I was interning there the next week,” Michaelson said. “I cannot stress enough the importance of an internship.”
Nabbing the internship was only the first step of Michaelson’s plan. Using that opportunity to its fullest advantage was just as important, if not more so, he said.
“It is so important to ask a lot of questions,” he told the students. “People like to talk about themselves. You’ve got to be aggressive ( during an internship)—look for things to do—and talk.
“Their job is to get their job done,” he said of his bosses. “Your job is to make their job easier.”
Looking the part on the job, paid or not, was also a lesson Michaelson shared with students.
“Dress for the job you want, not the one you have,” he said.
Staying in touch, such as by sending birthday and holiday cards, is a crucial step in networking for that next job, he said.
Michaelson graduated summa cum laude with Phi Beta Kappa honors from USC with dual degrees in broadcast journalism and political science.
He landed his first broadcast news job as a weekend morning anchor and weeknight reporter at XETV’s San Diego 6 News,
The boy who dreamed of a career in television news is now a successful man. Career highlights including reporting live from President Barack Obama’s inauguration and the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and winning five Emmy awards and 11 nominations for his work.
As for getting the Los Angeles based ABC7 job, Michaelson saved the phone number of a USC professor who had worked at the station.
“He said ‘call me’—I did.”
Michaelson stresses perseverance.
“It’s all about finding what you love and pursuing it.”
Agoura High School senior Diego Aguirre found Michaelson’s talk inspirational. Although he is not interested in journalism, he said Michaelson’s description of internships and networking was useful. He hopes his school reinstates its job shadowing program so he can start the process himself.
“It’s about putting yourself out there,” Michaelson said about the job hunt, paid or unpaid. “The job market is intimidating. How can you separate yourself from everybody else (looking for the same job)?”