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CAREER: So, now what?

By Timothy St. Clair

You just returned home from the 2016 NCRA Convention; so, now what? What are you supposed to do now? Maybe you were inspired by the Speed Contest champions and contestants, as they were recognized for their extraordinary talents. Perhaps you were challenged by a presenter in one of the many different seminar tracks that you chose to attend. It could have been as simple as the conversation you had with a court reporting student who inspired you with his or her optimism and positive outlook towards joining a very select profession.

Whatever your experience was at the convention, you are now faced with a choice of which path to take. One path is to simply take all of the materials you gathered from the various vendors, the notes you took during your seminar courses, conversations with fellow court reporters or students, and shove them into a drawer, or in the deep recesses of your mind to never be seen or used again? I would suggest that to do so would be a great waste of your time, as well as a waste of the time that so many people gave in preparing the materials for the seminar and organizing the convention into a yearly gathering of court reporters for our educational and emotional benefit.

The other path would be to glean as much wisdom and inspiration as possible from the information you received. Allow me to suggest three easy steps to apply to what you may have heard or experienced from the convention this past weekend: 1) Observation: What did the presentation say to you, or what did you hear the person say? 2) Interpretation: What does the information you heard mean? 3) Application: What am I going to do about what the information says and means?

Let me offer my experience as an example. I attended the Awards Luncheon on Saturday afternoon and listened as the various Speed and Realtime Contest participants and winners were introduced. What did I observe? There were a number of court reporters that participated in the various speed contests.

What did I interpret from this observation? That each of the top six performers (as well as all that qualified) in the various categories were not only talented, but that for them to reach that point in their career took a lot of hard work and dedication.

How am I going to apply this to myself? Now comes what some may interpret as the OC moment, or the rubber meets the road moment. But what it simply means to me is that I need to spend more time refining my writing style and practicing. Why? Not necessarily because I want to participate in a speed contest, but to become more practiced and polished in my profession so that by doing so I can make a positive difference as I perform my job duties.

Please understand you don’t have to have just returned from the national convention to apply any of the above. These are three simple steps that can be applied to any learning experience that you may have had. Often as we attend seminars or webinars the amount of information we have received can be analogous to drinking water from a fire hose. Tons of output, only so much space to receive it. It is my hope that this exercise may provide you with a tangible way to break down into manageable portions that information that you have received.

Timothy St. Clair, RMR, is the owner of St. Clair Court Reporting in South Bend, Ind. He can be reached at