By Melissa E. Case
Makenzie Koman is a freelance court reporter in Northeast Ohio. She graduated from Miami-Jacobs Career College after two years and two months. Makenzie’s future goals are to become an RPR and work her way up to an RDR. Right now, she loves freelancing and loves the variety of work she gets from various court reporting firms.
What would have been beneficial for you to know during court reporting school now looking back?
Actually, my school told me exactly how it would be when I started, and they were mostly right. I knew a lot of the negatives of the field from school, and it seemed to have prepared me well.
Can you list one or two of the negatives?
Some of the negatives in the field are you don’t make a lot of money the first year. You’re only going to be taking mostly easy, low-paying jobs, so I kept a second job that worked around my court reporting schedule. That was the only way I really could afford to live. Another negative is scheduling. There are quite a few jobs that come last minute, and of course you don’t want to turn them down if you can take them. So plans do get messed up a lot, but it’s usually worth it. You just always have to be prepared for something like that.
What was the best piece of advice you got from school?
How do you stay organized?
I use QuickBooks to keep track of everything. It’s awesome. It doesn’t keep track of the mileage that you use, so I have an app on my phone called MileIQ, which is about $60 a year, and it keeps track of every drive you take, and then you can choose whether it’s for personal or business use. Saves me a lot of grief with writing down and adding my miles up!
What are good first year goals for new reporters?
To get some type of certification. It will be your slowest year of reporting, and you’ll most likely have more time on your hands to practice and study.
If you could do something different in school and your first year of reporting what would it be?
Learn more vocabulary. Even little words like chute and drawer I’ve embarrassingly used wrong.
What’s in your bag?
Diamante, laptop, cords (extension cord), outlet adapter thing (makes an old two prong outlet into three), business cards, microphone, legal pad, exhibit stickers, stapler, pens, highlighters.
What’s something you don’t think you could report without?
A smile! So important.
How do you keep track of your jobs?
I have a dry erase board on my refrigerator where I write the witness name, date it’s due, and what firm it is for. If I have a lot to get done, it feels great to wipe them off as I get them finished!
Melissa E. Case, RPR, is a freelance reporter in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, and a member of the NCRA New Professionals Committee. She can be reached at Melissac.email@example.com.