STUDENT REPORTING: The impact mentoring can have on court reporting students

By Ahlam Alhadi

As a current student, I have had the good fortune of being mentored by numerous credentialed court reporters, from officials working for the superior court to freelancers working for reporting firms. I have found the advice and positive reinforcement to be the most beneficial aspects of interning, given the competitive nature of court reporting. This profession has its perks, but it also has high expectations. Attaining a 95 percent on the Registered Professional Reporter exam and a 97.5 percent on the Certified Shorthand Reporter exam is a difficult and daunting task, so it helps to be surrounded by individuals who encourage you to look on the bright side.

During my internship, I was privileged enough to shadow many seasoned officials, each of whom had gone out of their way to give me as much advice, knowledge, and positive reinforcement as possible. I was taught various software applications, including how to distinguish between multiple speakers as well as different software commands. We discussed different ways to stay organized and how to report during a jury selection. Many officials would spend their breaks advising me and would even take me back to their offices to meet other reporters and judges. I felt as though every court reporter I shadowed was taking me under her wing, and each of them had great advice and pieces of knowledge for me. I was so surprised by their willingness to help. I was so appreciative. It wasn’t until then that I realized how important it is to have a mentor and to be among those who have gone through this process and have come out of it and achieved success. One official told me that the hardest part about being a student is that there are times when you become so discouraged and stressed that your negative thoughts often cloud your mind and affect your performance. She assured me that I was doing very well and told me the best thing to do is to stop worrying, continue to do my work, and stick with my schedule. I think of that piece of advice daily as I try to limit my stress and frustration.

Many of the freelancers who I have met have been just as supportive and encouraging. A friend of mine who works for a reporting firm is always there for me when I have a question or a concern. If I text her a brief question, she will respond with a lengthy message or a long phone conversation, and she is always able to give me very beneficial information. She suggests helpful books to purchase, and she stresses the importance of speedbuilding. Not only that, but she is always telling me to stay positive because I am so close to becoming a court reporter, and she reminds me to work very hard and stay persistent.

My court reporting instructor has been great at addressing my areas of strength and weakness in a way that is both constructive and encouraging rather than disparaging. In fact, her critiques often alleviate my stress because they give me the opportunity to focus on very specific areas that need more attention. I know that she will always provide me with information that will allow me to make necessary changes. A discussion with her fills me with such relief as she reminds me of all the strides that I have made in my speedbuilding.

In particular, my aunt, who is a freelance reporter, has been a wonderful mentor to me. She has given me so many of her briefs and textbooks that once helped her as a student. She never hesitates to take the time out of her busy schedule to meet with me and see how I am progressing in my work. When my writer suddenly needed to be repaired, she lent me her student writer in a moment’s notice. She is always giving me great advice in regard to which reporting firms to work for, when to intern, and how to make better use of my practice time. Not only that, but she has been very open about her past experiences as a student and has not been shy about telling me how difficult and discouraging being a court reporting student can be. She has told me that many students worry about the length of time it will take them to finish school and get their credentials, and many think about whether or not it will all be worth it. She assures me that these are all normal feelings to have, and that with time, all the hard work will surely pay off. For a student to hear that is an enormous relief. It is great to know that many reporters have felt discouraged at one time or another, but they were ultimately able to achieve their goals and are very happy in this respected profession.

Knowing that these successful men and women have gone through what I am currently enduring really puts me at ease. I feel lucky to have had such amazing experiences with these reporters. I believe that every student needs to have a reporter or reporters who can mentor and guide them. It can really change your outlook and push you to achieve.

Ahlam Alhadi is a court reporting student. She can be reached at ahlam513@gmail.com.