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New Professional Profile: Emily Kramm

By Chris DeGrazio

Emily Kramm, a freelancer from Belle Plaine, Minn., spent her first year out of school absorbing as much as she could. And her advice for students? “Don’t ever look in the rearview mirror.”

JCR | Why did you choose to become a court reporter? 

EK | The short version is that once I was introduced to the profession [through serving jury duty in a criminal matter], it was more than just ironic that it seemed to offer me all the things that I have been searching for in a career my whole life.

JCR | What do you enjoy most about court reporting? 

EK | Being rewarded for hard work. 

JCR | How did you feel both going into your first assignment as a reporter and coming out of it? 

EK | I was jittery and anxious as is to be expected, but I really started sweating when my first job got switched to remote on the morning of and I suddenly forgot how to do my job. Luckily, a colleague, a mentor, and my firm’s team were able to give me tips so I could walk into my first depo feeling confident (or at least more confident than I was feeling.)  I remember letting out a huge sigh after it was over. Many things didn’t go as expected, but it always could have been worse — my favorite motto lately.

JCR | What’s something you’ve learned in your first few months of reporting? 

EK | Too many to list, but some major ones are prepping the night before, pausing for a second before you speak to think about what you are about to say, and that perfection is not the goal.

JCR | What was the hardest part of transitioning from school to the real world? 

EK | Patience. “Rome was not built in a day.”

JCR | If you could sum up your first year in one word, what would it be and why? 

EK | Absorb. “To take in through small openings.” This pretty much sums up my first year. I am trying to absorb as much as I can, but sometimes I feel like I can only absorb so much at a time. With each job I do and each skill that I learn, I absorb a little bit more.

JCR | What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you first started out? 

EK | Perfection is not the goal.

JCR | What is your biggest challenge as a new reporter? 

EK | Figuring out the financial ebbs and flows of freelancing and planning ahead. I am learning a lot.

JCR | What’s the coolest experience you have had working in the profession? 

EK | When I sat down at my desk one night to prep for the next day’s job and I was like “Oh, this is a famous person.” I was so excited until the nerves started to kick in, and then I was terrified. 

JCR | Do you have a mentor?

EK | Yes, I have two awesome mentors:  Merilee Johnson, RDR, CRR, CRC, and Micheal Johnson, RDR, CRR.

JCR | Where’s your favorite place to proofread jobs and why? 

EK | My office because it is comfortable. My dog has a bed right by my feet, and I painted the walls a color that energizes me. Desert pink for those who are curious.

JCR | What’s your “can’t live without” item in your steno bag?

EK | My Sound Professionals microphone. I am not ashamed to admit that it is a job-saver for me. The audio is very clear, great quality sound, and excellent customer service.

JCR | What are some of your favorite time-saving practices, techniques, or gadgets? 

EK | Focus timers and daily practice. Working in my office so much of the time either has me sitting in there for hours until I start to get a headache and I’m crabby or I find myself getting up and walking out to do something in the house every page or two. So focus timers really help me. As for the daily practice, I find that just a little bit of really fast testimony practice daily or working on my trouble word list helps with my accuracy writing on the job.

JCR | What did you do to remain positive and motivated? 

EK | I don’t know if I always remained positive, but what motivated me was my commitment to finish out what I had started, and it has really paid off.

JCR | How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance? 

EK | I haven’t figured that out yet. This year I have started exercising regularly, and that has helped immensely with body pain and mental clarity.

JCR | What is a long-term goal?

EK | To support our household on my income.

JCR | Where do you see yourself and your career in five years? 

EK | I will have my RPR and will be debt-free.

JCR | Do you have any advice for reporting students? 

EK | This path is not for the faint of heart. Figure out if you’re committed early on in the program and then work your tail off. After you make that commitment, don’t ever look in the rearview mirror.  Not at test scores, not at the amount of time you’ve spent, not at yesterday’s practice log; only forward focus from that point on.

Emily Kramm is a freelance reporter from Belle Plaine, Minn. She can be reached at

Chris DeGrazio is a freelance reporter in Fort Pierce, Fla. He can be reached at