UTS | Can you talk a little about your background?
JW | I am a current online student at the College of Court Reporting (CCR) in Valparaiso, Ind. I grew up and currently live in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia, Pa., and attended Temple University for English education. When I graduated, I knew that teaching was not going to work for me, so I started looking for a career path that would be a better fit. That’s when I found court reporting.
UTS | How did you first get the idea of being a court reporter?
JW | Before learning about CCR, I knew next to nothing about court reporting. I had never known a court reporter or been educated on the career. When I started looking for a different career path, I specifically looked for less well-known careers to try and find something I had never considered before. That is when I came across a post about court reporting on Reddit. As I began to look into it, I became more intrigued with the stenography machine and all the possibilities that court reporting could open up for me. I was afraid that I might start another college program that wouldn’t fit me in the end, but after completing an NCRA A to Z® Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program, I mustered up the courage to take that chance.
UTS | When did you start at CCR and what speed are you at now?
JW | I began my program at CCR in January of 2020 as a part-time student and a full-time employee at an advertising agency. More than a year later, I am doing the same thing, but now I work from home. I am currently working on my 160 wpm speed tests. I hope to be working on my 180 speeds by the end of the semester in a few weeks.
UTS | What kinds of challenges have you faced during your court reporting program? Particularly during COVID?
JW | I am very lucky when it comes to attending school during the pandemic because it made focusing on school easier. My job centers around trade shows, so when the pandemic hit, my company lost a lot of business. I was put on reduced hours and eventually furloughed for six months. I debated taking my furlough as an opportunity to go to school full-time every semester, but never took the shot since I had no idea when I would be called back to work. I am grateful for the time that the pandemic let me focus on school and have even greater respect for those who had more on their plate and continued to push through school.
UTS | What is the best advice you’ve been given so far?
JW | I think the best advice I have been given so far is to make sure that I am pushing myself to 20 wpm above my goal speed during speed-building practice. My mind tends to wander when I have been practicing an audio recording at too comfortable a speed. When that happens, I try to change my practice. It helps me to pay attention and reach my speed goals.
UTS | What are your plans for when you finish school? What is your dream job?
JW | Honestly, I do not have plans or a dream job at the moment. I am open to whatever opportunities come my way, and I am interested in exploring many different areas of this career path to find what works best for me. One of the best things about this field is that it can be very flexible, and I plan on taking advantage of that flexibility as I grow and change throughout my life.
UTS | What do you do when you aren’t working?
JW | Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of downtime at the moment; however, I love to read novels, play video games, and listen to podcasts when I am not working. In fact, those hobbies are part of what led me to consider court reporting in the first place. Though not always as entertaining, court reporting, in my eyes, has qualities from all three.
UTS | If you were to go to a high school career fair to recruit students, what would you say to them about a career in court reporting and captioning?
I think I would tell interested students that court reporting and captioning are great fields to get into if they have decent writing skills and are interested in a flexible and dynamic career. This career path can take you to many places and fit many different lifestyles. If you take the time to explore your opportunities with court reporting and captioning, you will most likely find something that fits you well.