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Picture yourself in Louisville at the NCRA Conference & Expo this August

Jennifer Billstein-Miller

By Jennifer Billstein-Miller

Picture it: Philadelphia. August 12, 2012. The NCRA Convention is in town.

And, yes, I said that in my “Sophia voice” from The Golden Girls.

Melanie Humphrey-Sonntag, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, was NCRA President. I had been a court reporter for 14 years. I hadn’t yet realized the need for certification, so I wasn’t involved with or even a member of NCRA. But I’d heard they were in town, so I decided to check it out. I had no idea that that decision would change my whole career!

As I walked to the entrance for the venue, Melanie herself was there wearing her big, beautiful smile. She held the door for me and welcomed me. I felt like I’d met a celebrity! Since it was my first convention, I was amazed at all the new people I got to meet and the vendor tables with so much useful information. It didn’t take long for me to decide getting certified was a must­ — and so was attending the annual NCRA convention.

Since I began attending these conventions and conferences, the networking and the ability to learn new technology have helped me to excel in my career. My confidence in my skills has increased every year. My income has more than doubled because I now have the confidence to offer realtime and upsell. And, most importantly, I have met colleagues who have become some of my best friends. I love the opportunity the conferences afford me to meet new people. I love to introduce myself to reporters whom I’ve never met and get to know better the people I’ve met before.

This will be the fifth year in a row that I have competed in the NCRA Realtime and Speed Contests. The feeling of being in the room alongside the best, most skilled stenographers in the entire country is indescribable. The camaraderie and generosity in the contest room is amazing. I sat next to Mark Kislingbury, FAPR, RDR, CRR, during my first realtime contest. That made me so nervous. I had no chance of qualifying. But since then I have qualified in two 280 wpm Q&A contests and one 240 wpm literary contest. I’m so excited to compete again this year!

My continued attendance at the NCRA conferences has made me realize that it’s so important to support your state and national associations. They offer the chance to keep up with all the latest in our industry, increase your income, better your skills, gain more confidence, expose yourself to new ideas and new technologies, and allow you to extend your circle of colleagues who become your best friends. They enable you to enhance your career and make your working life so much better and more fulfilling.

I can’t wait to meet YOU at the next NCRA Conference & Expo!

Registration is open for the NCRA Conference & Expo taking place at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville, Ky., Aug. 1-3. See the full schedule.

Jennifer Billstein-Miller is a freelance reporter in Deptford, N. J. She can be reached at