With 2019 Court Reporting & Captioning Week on the horizon, many NCRA members are planning to mark the event by participating in a career day at a local middle or high school where they can show off their steno skills and introduce students to the benefits of a career in court reporting or captioning.
The JCR Weekly reached out to NCRA members Ann Hall, RPR, an official court reporter from Monterey, Calif., and Jason Meadors, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, a freelance court reporter from Fort Collins, Colo., who each recently participated in local school career days, to find out more about their experiences.
In early November, Hall participated in a college/employment fair day at Seaside High School in Seaside, Calif., where she introduced the court reporting profession to students from all four of the grades. Hall said she was asked to participate by a counselor from the school, and she noted that the last time she had attended a career event was some 12 years ago.
“It was great to work with young people and hopefully get some of them interested in court reporting,” she said, adding that she would definitely do it again if asked. “Thanks to the package I received from NCRA, I had many NCRA magazines available, some ‘swag’ from various vendors, and information about court reporting in general.”
Among the many questions students asked her were: How does the machine work? What’s it like to be in court? What do you do when people talk over one another? And among the responses, Hall heard: “Cool! I’ve never seen a machine like that before.”
Hall added that she learned about the court reporting profession from a family friend who worked as a reporter, and it was he who encouraged her to pursue the career.
Meanwhile, in Colorado, Meadors said he showcased the court reporting and captioning professions to sixth, seventh, and eighth graders at the Broomfield Heights Middle School in Broomfield, Colo., upon the request of an associate.
Meadors said the students’ questions were great, and the experience gave him hope for the generation to come, because they were bright, inquisitive, and polite. The experience also gave him an appreciation for the need for NCRA members to get their story out to younger people.
“They wanted to know what type of training was involved, how much education, how much work per week, if travel was involved, what kind of people I ran across, what were my most and least favorite aspects of the job, if I got perks for airline miles – I don’t remember them all, but the questions were very perceptive,” he said.
“They thought the machine and realtime display was pretty cool. They thought the traveling I do was pretty cool,” added Meadors, who noted that he has done other career day events which, unlike this one that rotated students through one classroom, were set up similar to a vendor hall.
Meadors, who said he would certainly participate in a career event again, advises others who decide to attend one to go prepared with a presentation they want to give, but be agile, because the format they choose might not be the format that’s best for the setting.
“For instance, I had a PowerPoint prepared, but I ditched it. I was prepared to scatter realtime screens throughout the classroom, but that wouldn’t have worked as well either. Instead, I answered their scads of questions, I told the most entertaining but honest stories I could, and they gathered around while I did a realtime display,” he said.
“We really do have a fascinating profession. I gave my presentation in tandem with a lady who had the title of ‘project manager,’ and she kept complaining privately to me that she just sounded boring compared to the work we do,” he noted.
Meadors said he first learned about the court reporting career while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he was assigned to legal services clerk class right out of boot camp.
“The highest graduates of that class went to the court reporter class. It was stenomask training. I placed high there, found out I loved the work, and went to steno school upon my honorable discharge from the Marines,” he added.
NCRA member Penny Wile, RMR, CRR, owner of Penny Wile Court Reporting in Norfolk, Va., has been a court reporter for more than 30 years. Recently she also showcased the court reporting and captioning profession, but this time, to students in a paralegal course taught at her local community college. Read Penny Wile’s story.