Welcome to CSR Nation
Best advice I can offer is basically do what they tell you in school, and keep watch on Facebook and other court reporting forums for tips and tricks.
Don't watch your hands when you write, try to avoid writing while your eyes are closed (in school, anyway; drives the teachers nuts because they think you're sleeping!) ... and last, but not least, grab yourself a snack and a beverage and take a good look around Cheap and Sleazy.
Good luck to you! Wish I had found this profession when I was 17 ....
"For a Good (steno) Time ...."
I know that's good advice, but could you elaborate a little on why that is good advice?
As per Glen's most welcome suggestion, let me tell you why reading a newspaper every day is so important. I think it's important for all human beings but particularly so for court reporters.
The more words and names that we recognize, the easier and less stressful our working lives are. When you're young, you don't necessarily know that what is pronounced as ibeeprofin is actually Ibuprofen. Or that NSAID stands for non-steroidal antiinflammatory and that this thing that sounds like NAZdak is actually a very common acronym, NASDAQ, which stands for -- actually I don't know what it stands for because it's only referred to as NASDAQ. A lot of this stuff will become familiar to you from reading the newspaper. It's so much better to recognize a word or name and then go find the spelling as opposed to hearing something so unfamiliar that it might as well be in a different language. We all have to supplement our formal education by keeping up with the world, whether it's business, sports, medicine, and yes, even gossip. There is practically a direct correlation with "news of the day" and our work as court reporters.
All that aside, it's extremely interesting reading the newspaper and knowing what's going on in the world.
I have been a court reporter for 25 years. You have to have the dedication it takes to be a reporter. That means no 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. job for you. You will work at night and on the weekends to meet deadlines. I work every single weekend unless I am caught up. Make sure this is something that is okay with you.
A lot of reporters are not aware of this fact when they start. Also, if you have plans for vacation, make sure you take off about four days ahead of your vacation to get "all" your work in so no agency is looking for a depo when you are out of town. Not good. This is not the job for everyone but these are a few things to take into concideration.
If an attorney tells you on a depo, "I need this transcript tomorrow," there is no saying "no." You have to make it happen. At least the good reporters do what they have to do to keep the client happy. For that, you will be at the top of your agency list of reporters to call.
Thank you guys all so much! I appreciate it more than you know. I'll reply to you all in this comment, but individually.
Glen - I do. The hardest part for me is that I don't feel challenged. I know I will once I get to speed, but I'm just ready to accelerate right now. You know? I write with my laptop screen tilted, so I can't see CaseCAT or any translation. Thank you very much, and I've wanted to do this since I was 14. How long have you been reporting?
Marge - Thank you. I thought I had a great vocabulary...until I started school for Court Reporting. Hahaha. I'll definitely check that out.
Kelli - Great advice. I'm very good with meeting deadlines and finishing my work before it's needed. I'm a perfectionist, precise, and love challenges. I'll make sure to do that when I take vacations.
What do you all feel has been the most challenging, and most rewarding, part of your career?
Hi, Tiffany. I started CR school 10 days after graduating from HS in 1972, got my license in 1973, and have loved reporting ever since. I originally got into reporting to put myself through college, but I loved it so much I stayed, and now I'm finally finishing up my degree. Your age is definitely a plus because those younger brain cells are able to process more quickly, I think, but as some mentioned, your general lack of life experience may be a drawback in not recognizing things people say. So don't be afraid to ask for help!!! Your description of yourself sounds like the perfect combination for a reporter. My psychologist husband says every reporter he's met has the same personality: perfectionist stickler for details.
To add to Marge's comments with another example, I do a lot of elder abuse cases, and when the attorneys are talking about a "sniff," they mean a SNF, acronym for skilled nursing facility. I've had new reporters turn in transcripts where they spelled it "sniff," and it's understandable, but one of those things you don't want the attorneys to see.
Reporters kind of work in solitude; there's not a lot of opportunity to gather at the water cooler with colleagues. That's why sites like this are so terrific. No one understand the stress of court reporting like a court reporter, and there are few people besides CRs who really care about word nuances and will spend hours researching pretty obscure subjects just to make sure the transcript is accurate.
So welcome to our world, and I hope you find the encouragement and tips here that will help make your life easier.
To answer your question, I think the most challenging part of the career is simply making the record despite background noise, heavy accents, people talking over one another, and the speediness of people's speech nowadays. The most rewarding? Knowing you're performing a service that's an important part of the legal system with a skill that is possessed by very few, and realizing that you are preserving history in a very real way. We're not often complimented for what we do, so it's important to pat yourself on the back from time to time when you've done a great job.
I'm still a student, recovering from a rather lackluster quarter and compensating by switching schools! :o) I do, however, have about ten years (on and off) experience working as a transcriptionist for a court reporter, so I have some idea how transcripts should look, so that helps during tests.
Oh, and when you get a chance, stop by LadySteno.com. She started court reporting school when she was your age. She's about 22 now ... and is talking about spending the summer in Italy.
You have chosen a good profession.
Well, I wish you the best of luck! If I could have changed one thing, that would have been to start learning briefs and phrases as early as possible.
Good luck to you!
One of the great myths of CR school is "don't look at your hands." Fact is, it hurts nothing, and there will be plenty of times in your career when you should not look at the witness, at least for any extended period of time. It simply makes some people uncomfortable which interferes with their giving testimony. A few people interpret this as you being attracted to them; I can promise you, this will always be the last person you would ever want to date. So while you will IMO take in more of what's being said if you are able to watch people's mouths when they speak, you also need to practice now and again with not being able to see the speaker. Your demeanor in the depo or court setting has an enormous effect on the proceedings; you need to sense when to look away or to relax your expression. I had this brought home to me earlier this week in a big way when a judge praised me for relaxing my standard poker face and minimal speech to make a child witness' experience on the stand a little more bearable for her.
I am a self-taught court reporter for the most part -- please, no emails on this; I don't have time to respond -- and am firmly of the view that you ultimately are the one who teaches yourself reporting. Ultimately, everyone else is just a consultant. What worked for them may not work for you, at least not all the time. It's important to continually ask yourself, "What is the next thing I need to do to be a court reporter?" and to follow through on the specifics. Take charge of your learning process rather than depending on someone else. This is particularly true if they have not been a working court reporter at some time in their lives. Try to answer your questions for yourself before you go to someone else, but then utilize what's available.
Yes, yes, and yes to educating yourself by reading the newspaper. Consumer Reports is also very good to read, teaches you a lot about personal finance and just the way the adult world works. You can't know too much in this profession. Something that will serve you well is to become particularly familiar with orthopedic terminology.
Hope this helps. Suggest you give some thought to the specific questions you have so that you can receive the most useful answers.
And what Kelli said about the deadlines. Our work is extremely important, and they really do have to have it when they say they do.