By Emily Bergren
Sophie Michael, RPR, is a new professional currently living outside of Sully, Iowa. She graduated from Des Moines Area Community College in August 2021 and began working as an official court reporter in Polk County with Judge Belcher shortly after. Outside of stenography, Sophie loves to spend time with her fur baby, Dixie, and fiancé, Brett.
JCR | What was the hardest part of transitioning from school to the real world?
SM | Since I graduated while we were still learning virtually, I wasn’t used to people being physically in front of me other than a few job shadow opportunities. It was a difficult but exciting change to report people in my presence and not over an audio file. Another exciting change was that people don’t actually talk at 225 words per minute for five minutes! While this was not a transition I disliked, I did have to strengthen my endurance to write for more than five minutes even if it was a comfortable speed.
JCR | Do you have any advice for reporting students?
SM | The best advice I ever received: Know your theory. I was so anxious to get into my speed classes during school because that’s what I was here for, right? Well, I can promise you that a solid foundation will only make those speed classes easier. Take the time while you’re in theory to build a strong understanding. If you’re able to write any word without hesitation, your fingers can fly. Trust the process and make learning theory fun!
JCR | What did you do to remain positive and motivated during school?
SM | I am fresh out of school, so I can remember those draining days very well. Test after test and you’re still not seeing the results you want. Practice session after practice session and you still can’t master that one audio file. I truly believe that your mindset plays a huge role in your success in a program such as this. While having support from family, friends, peers, and instructors is beneficial, you need to be your own biggest cheerleader. I loved to treat myself when I passed that speed (finally) or saw improvement in myself. Whether that be ice cream, new shoes, a massage, or even just a mental break from steno, find your reward and stay true to rewarding yourself! Trust me, you earned it.
JCR | What do you love about your career?
SM | What I love most about my career is having something different to report every day. No two hearings are the same, and that’s what keeps me on my toes. I never know what I’m walking into when I begin a hearing, and that is super interesting to me. I don’t like to do the same thing over and over, so being able to hear something new (and sometimes a little crazy) every day has me excited to come back.
JCR | How did you feel both going into your first assignment as a reporter and coming out of it?
SM | I was super nervous going into my first assignment. I had a little pep talk with myself beforehand. I knew I was capable of doing it, but I just needed to get over the nerves. It was just a short hearing. However, when I finished, I was so proud of myself, and it really boosted my confidence because I finally made it.
JCR | What is your next goal?
SM | My next goal is to become realtime certified. I became an RPR in September, so I am going to allow myself a little break. But I want to continue working on my certifications. Nothing can compare to the excitement and accomplishment I felt when I finally passed my last RPR test. I am proud to be certified, and it is definitely something I want to continue working towards in my career. At the end of the day, I want to be the best reporter I can be, and I know focusing on certifications will push me to that level.
Emily Bergren, RPR, CRR, is a freelance reporter in Kansas City, Mo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org