“I think it is very important to encourage students as much as we can. Court reporting is difficult, and not everyone picks up the skill easily. I am grateful for those who helped me when I was in school and all along the way to where I am now.” Buffy Topper, RPR, CRR
The NCRA Virtual Mentor Program (VMP) is another way for court reporting and captioning students to get the encouragement they may need as they work towards their next speed. Mentors can share their own experiences and offer advice on speedbuilding, overcoming plateaus, and maintaining a practice schedule. “I think students have a ton of questions, insecurities, or just curiosity about the field, the excitement, the pros and cons,” says Amy Rosato, RPR, an official court reporter from Oriskany, N.Y. “I love that the field still exists and that students are still interested. I love to give answers and give a different perspective.”
In the past year, more than 125 students have been matched with a mentor through the Virtual Mentor Program. Some of the VMP mentors are recent graduates, who can easily recall the challenges of managing stress in school.
“I’ve been out of school for five years, but still remember its immediate struggles and concerns,” says Kendra Oechsner, RMR, an official court reporter from Oakfield, Wis. “I love this career and want to promote it in any way I can. I feel the most crucial way to do this is to provide the support that I wasn’t lucky enough to receive during school. I want to help a student know that the grass is greener on the other side and that the stress and anxiety are worth it for this career.”
Other mentors bring decades of experience, like Cathy Wood, RDR, CRR, a freelance court reporter from Laguna Niguel, Calif., who has been a court reporter for more than 40 years. “I still love being a court reporter and am very motivated to introduce young students to this amazing career. Court reporting is a challenging educational and training pursuit. I feel my longevity in this profession and positive attitude about my job make me a good mentor to court reporting students.”
Veteran reporters such as Wood can also serve as role models for mentees, someone to give them firsthand insight into the real world of court reporting. Many NCRA mentors also assist their mentees with job shadowing and internships.
Mentors in the VMP are eager to see their profession thrive. Brook Nunn, CRC, a captioner from Boise, Idaho, chose to be a mentor because: “Being a young captioner myself, it’s important to me that the profession continues to be viable for many years. For that to happen, we need to do everything we can to get more writers in the field. I’d like to share my knowledge and experience with new writers.”
By encouraging their newer colleagues to succeed, and offering their years of knowledge and expertise, mentors are continuing a tradition of service to their community. Deanna Dean, RDR, CRR, a freelance court reporter from Bedford, N.H., volunteers to mentor for the “opportunity to give back to the profession and pay forward the help I was given when I was a newbie. I was so grateful for that assistance back then and never forgot the person who was generous enough to offer it to me.”