New professional spotlight: Jessie Frey

A young blond woman standing in front of the reflection pool with the Washington Monument in the backgroundBy Jennifer Porto

Jessie Frey has just celebrated her first year working as a freelance deposition reporter. She was a stellar student with infectious enthusiasm. Have you ever met someone who exudes positivity and makes you want to run the extra mile? That is Jessie. She was not immune to the struggles that every court reporting student faces, but she had the will to achieve. By surrounding herself with other mentors who matched her optimism and tenacity, she was able to stay on her path to her goals. Hard work has paid off, and she is living her dream.

What was life like as a student?

Time goes by fast when you’re having fun and loving the career that you worked so incredibly hard for. I just celebrated my one-year anniversary as a California CSR. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, and I decided to begin my court reporting journey at South Coast College in Orange, California.

As a new student, my biggest stumbling block was learning how to prioritize getting out of school. Getting through court reporting school is a whole ‘nother ballgame versus getting my undergrad degree. I quickly learned that in order to get out of school, I needed to center my life around classes and practice, and I made sure my friends and family knew it. My mission was to get out of school and not get buried in student loans.

Speedbuilding was an exercise in realigning my attitude when I’d reach the inevitable plateaus. The roller coaster of passing a test and then getting bumped into a class where you immediately started to fail again was the strangest and most difficult mental battle I have ever endured. The idea of quitting or giving up was never an option. I had to constantly remind myself to keep pushing past the negative self-talk and the self-doubt. To burst through these plateaus, I made sure to transcribe every single test. I always analyzed my (sometimes many, many) mistakes to see what I was doing wrong, and eventually the amount of those errors would get smaller and smaller until I passed.

What did you do to remain positive and motivated?

One of the most valuable and important decisions I made as a student was to start getting to know working reporters in my state associations. I went to as many functions and networking events as I could. By taking advantage of student discounts, I was able to go to conventions, English seminars, student picnics, and even small networking happy hours that were hosted by some amazing court reporters.

One of the coolest things I experienced as a student was sitting in a seminar listening to reporters who worked at Guantanamo Bay. I left the seminar feeling exhilarated because of the possibilities and options that I would have. I didn’t have to limit myself to one path. That same day was a seminar presented by four CART captioners. It was the first time I truly grasped that side of reporting. I’ll never forget their stories about how grateful their students were to be able to follow along during class because of the captions these reporters were providing.

The beauty of doing these things as a student is that so many of these reporters are willing to help you. As a student, school feels like it is never going to end, but by surrounding myself with actual working reporters, I was able to visualize myself out in the real world too, and I knew there was light at the end of the court reporting school tunnel. By their association, I was able to keep the spark I needed to stay motivated.

It is all about staying positive. When I felt down about a test, I had people I could reach out to for words of encouragement or advice. As I passed more and more tests, these same reporters were just as excited about it as I was (maybe even more so). These are the same reporters that I now consider to be some of my closest friends. I can rely on them when I have questions that come up about depositions, procedures, or when I just need someone I can vent to about having to cancel plans to get out an expedite.

After you passed the CSR, what reporting path did you choose?

When I got my license, I decided to be a freelance deposition reporter. I find it thrilling to be in a new place, with new people and a new case every single day. No two days are alike. I never know what to expect.

As a freelance reporter, I am able to work for multiple agencies. I am completely free to pick up jobs when I want, take additional work, or enjoy a few days off when I feel overwhelmed or buried with pages — or simply want a long weekend. I love that I have that flexibility. I love not having a boss. I have complete freedom to pick and choose my own schedule, where and when I want to work and how much, but I do miss having the benefits that an official would have. There are no limits to what the reporting road may lead to. I’m happy as a freelancer for now, but I find comfort in the fact that I have a variety of career paths to choose from within court reporting.

What has been an obstacle for you as a new reporter?

As a new reporter, I have struggled with time management and balance. I want to take every job that is offered and work every day, but I have had to learn to gauge the amount of pages versus the time it will take to edit so I can meet my deadlines. It is all about figuring out the balance and what is within reason. I’m still learning how to juggle working, editing, and trying to find the time to practice shortening my writing.

One of the biggest things I had to overcome and learn that wasn’t taught in school was how to interrupt and ask questions in a depo setting. It took me quite a while to feel comfortable being assertive with attorneys. I “faked it ‘til I made it.” Now I have no issue interrupting when there are multiple people talking at once or asking an attorney to speak louder when he thinks I can hear his whispering objection as well as the ongoing testimony.

I’m so thankful I put in the hours of practicing and studying in school to be where I am today. The struggles and ups and downs of court reporting school were worth it, and I’m part of a wonderful profession where I learn something new every single day. My career has only just begun, but I know I have the skills and ability to become a great reporter. There are so many wonderful opportunities in this field that I can’t wait to take hold of.

Jennifer Porto is a freelance reporter in Long Beach, Calif., and a member of the NCRA New Professionals Committee. She can be reached at jenn0644@gmail.com

NCRA member recognized for new certification

JCR logoThe Observer-Reporter, Washington, Pa., posted a press release on June 17 announcing that NCRA member Amanda Lundberg, RPR, CRC, recently has earned the nationally recognized Certified Realtime Captioner certification. The press release was issued by NCRA on behalf of Lundberg.

Read more.

Advance your legal video skills at the NCRA Convention & Expo

VideographyNCRA offers legal videographers the opportunity to complete several steps toward their Certified Legal Video Specialist (CLVS) certification at the NCRA Convention & Expo. Work toward the CLVS certification through the three-day CLVS Seminar and Production Exam while networking with both up-and-coming and highly regarded CLVSs and court reporters. There is also a ticketed Legal Videographers Reception on Friday from 6-7 p.m.

Robin Cassidy-Duran, RPR, CLVS, a freelancer and firm owner in Eugene, Ore., offers this advice on becoming a CLVS: “As a court reporter, I had observed many videographers over the years, and I sometimes envied their job as I struggled to get every word down on my machine. I decided that if I was going to do it, I wanted to do it right. I wanted to be taken seriously when I walked into the deposition. I decided to begin with the Certified Legal Video Specialist program.”

Put CLVS after your name

Videographers new to legal video can take the three-day CLVS Seminar. If they have already completed the CLVS Seminar, then they can sign up for the CLVS Production Exam on Friday or Saturday.

Craig F. Mitchell, CLVS, states: “Had I not studied the CLVS standards, invested in top quality professional equipment, practiced, and intensely tested every aspect of what was expected, that first deposition certainly would have been my last.”

Legal videographers with sufficient deposition-taking experience may apply to take the CLVS Seminar and CLVS Production Exam concurrently. Once approved by the CLVS Council, experienced videographers will be notified that they can take the CLVS Seminar on Saturday and the CLVS Production Exam on Sunday.

CLVS candidates are encouraged to take advantage of the NCRA room block while in Las Vegas.

NCRA member in the news

JCR logoThe Dispatch, Lexington, Ky., reported on April 24 that NCRA member Amy Brauser earned the nationally recognized Certified Realtime Reporter certification. The story was generated by a press release issued by NCRA.

Read more.

Sign up for the Written Knowledge Test

Photo by Ryan Hyde

Photo by Ryan Hyde

Registration opens March 1 for the Written Knowledge Tests for the RPR, RDR, CRC, and CLVS certifications. Candidates have until March 31 to register, and the testing period is April 8 to 20.

After registering, candidates will receive a confirmation email within three business days with information about scheduling a testing location, day, and time with Pearson Vue. If you do not receive the confirmation email, please email testing@ncra.org. Candidates will need to present photo ID when signing into the testing center, so it’s critical that the first and last name on a candidate’s photo ID match their NCRA record. Candidates whose name does not match will not be allowed to test. Update your record now.

Testing center slots fill up quickly, so it is important to register as soon as possible. Candidates may register here. For more information on NCRA certification programs, visit NCRA.org/certifications.

Hear from a veteran captioner why earning your CRC is important

The JCR Weekly reached out to NCRA member Carol Studenmund, RDR, CRR, CRC, Chair of NCRA’s Certified Realtime Captioner (CRC) Committee, a broadcast captioner from Portland, Ore., to talk about why captioners should consider earning the CRC.

Tell us a little about your background. How did you get involved in the captioning profession?

Our company, LNS Court Reporting is celebrating its 30th anniversary this month! We expanded into the captioning world back in 1992. It was a natural progression for our business. My first big gig was helping to caption a regional conference of Self-Help for Hard-of-Hearing People here in Portland, where I met NCRA member Deanna Baker, RMR, a broadcast captioner from Flagstaff, Ariz.

Who would you say would benefit most by earning the CRC in this profession?

Our company is seeing more and more contract opportunities that specifically ask for proof of our captioners having the CRC. We only schedule captioners with the CRC for court work we caption in our state. We work both on-site and remotely for our court system. All of that adds up to the fact that we need more captioners who have the CRC.

Do you see an increase in the demand for certified captioners in the near future and if so, why?

More and more contract opportunities will have this requirement. Our potential clients know there is a wide variety in caption quality. They can’t afford to spend their tight public money on services that are not provided by a qualified captioner.

How has earning the CRC helped you professionally?

I earned my CRR back in 1993. I took the Written Knowledge Tests for the Certified Broadcast Captioner and Certified CART Provider in 2009. [Members who held the CBC and/or CCP before Jan. 1, 2016, were automatically transitioned to holding the CRC.] Certifications always give the person who earns them confidence in his or her skills. I haven’t looked for a job in 30 years, but I have hired many people in that time. And when I see a certification, I know a good deal about the captioner’s capabilities right off the bat. And maintaining my certifications has led to me knowing captioners and court reporters across the country, and exposed me to the latest trends and technology for our professions.

What do you advise someone considering earning the CRC to encourage them to do so?

Get busy! This certification has three legs: the Written Knowledge Test, the Skills Test, and a Workshop. They’re all essential to the certification program. Our captioning profession has grown for more than three decades. And during that time, we’ve gone from a community of pioneers, who truly did make it up as they went, to a profession that is depended upon by millions of people all over our country. Our consumers want a way to know they are working with a qualified service provider.

Are you eligible for the CRC exception? Learn more here.

Are you eligible for the CRC exception?

Candidates who passed the Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR) test prior to November 2011 are eligible to earn the Certified Realtime Captioner (CRC) upon successful completion of the CRC Workshop and Written Knowledge Test. These candidates are not required to take the Skills Test to earn the CRC under a recent exception approved by NCRA’s Council of the Academy of Professional Reporters (CAPR) that recognizes the Skills Test requirement of the CRR certification as equivalent.

Note: The exception to use the CRR Skills Test history towards earning the CRC expires Dec. 31. Any CRC candidate who has not fully earned the certification by that date will be required to pass the CRC Skills Test, regardless of prior testing history.

CAPR’s recent action to exclude the Skills Test requirement for the CRC for candidates who earned the CRR prior to November 2011 was based on the findings that prior to November 2011, the Certified Broadcast Captioner (CBC), the Certified Captioning Provider (CCP), and the CRR Skills Tests were the same: five minutes of literary matter at 180 wpm.

Anyone who passed the CRR during or after November 2011 will need to take the CRC Skills Test, the CRC Workshop, and pass the Written Knowledge Test to become certified.

The requirements to earn the CRC are the successful completion of:

  • CRC Workshop — either in person in August at the NCRA Convention & Expo or online through NCRA’s e-seminar catalogue
  • CRC Written Knowledge Test — offered in April, with registration open March 1-31, on-site in August at the NCRA Convention & Expo, or in October with registration open Sept. 1-30
  • CRC Skills Test — unless using the CRR exception by Dec. 31

Candidates wishing to use the exception for the CRC Skills Test must successfully complete the CRC Workshop and the CRC Written Knowledge Test. Candidates must then notify testing@ncra.org upon successful completion of the Workshop and Written Knowledge Test in order to reflect their CRC status. Only current members in good standing can hold the CRC status.

Hear from a veteran captioner why earning your CRC is important.

For more information, contact testing@ncra.org.

Mark your calendars with learning opportunities through NCRA

calendar

Photo by Dafne Cholet

Make your plan to earn CEUs and tackle your educational needs this year. Whether you are working toward earning your RPR or your cycle ends Jan. 31 or Sept. 30, NCRA can help you get ahead.

In addition, NCRA members can earn CEUs by passing the skills or written portion of certain tests, such as the RMR, RDR, CRR, or CLVS exams.

Here is a short selection of dates and events (dates are subject to change).

Jan. 31 — 9/30/16 cycle extension deadline

Feb. 12-14 — 2017 Firm Owners Executive Conference, Tucson, Ariz.

March 1-31 — Registration period for April RPR, RDR, CRC, and CLVS Written Knowledge Tests

April 5 — Second quarter online skills test registration opens

April 8-20 — RPR, RDR, CRC, and CLVS Written Knowledge Test dates

June 1-30 — Registration period for July RPR and CLVS Written Knowledge Tests

July 5 — Third quarter online skills test registration opens

July 8-20 — RPR and CLVS Written Knowledge Test dates

Aug. 10-13 — 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo, Las Vegas, Nev.

Sept. 1-30 — Registration period for October RPR, RDR, CRC, and CLVS Written Knowledge Tests

Sept. 30 — Submission deadline for CEUs and PDCs for members with a 9/30/17 cycle ending

Oct. 5 — Fourth quarter online skills test registration opens

Oct. 7-19 — RPR, RDR, CRC, and CLVS Written Knowledge Tests

Court Reporting & Captioning Week (Feb. 11-18), Memorial Day (May 30), and Veterans Day (Nov. 11) are also all good opportunities to schedule Veterans History Project Days to earn PDCs. And don’t forget that online skills testing is available year round.

In addition, NCRA is planning webinars throughout the year, which will be announced in the JCR Weekly and on the NCRA Facebook and Twitter pages as they are available. Watch for more information in the JCR, in the JCR Weekly, and on TheJCR.com for registration, deadlines, and other ideas to earn continuing education.

Testing where and when you want cited as a huge benefit of online testing

testing-tips-lightbulbThe many benefits of NCRA’s online testing program include a user-friendly and secure system, more testing opportunities annually, faster results, and greater affordability. However, users of the system continue to report that the freedom and convenience of being able to test in a location of their choosing, including at home or in the office, continues to rank as one of the biggest factors for success.

The program, which is a partnership between NCRA, Realtime Coach, and ProctorU, was launched in August 2015 and offers online skills testing platforms for candidates of the RPR, RMR, CRR, and CRC certifications. Since then, more than 2,300 tests have been taken online.

“This was my first online testing experience, and I was able to pass the last leg of the RPR that I needed to become certified, so I’d say it was a pretty great experience. I like the online testing much better than having to go to a brick-and-mortar testing site. I did not like having to wake up very early in the morning to make it to the testing site and having to bring all of my equipment. Less anxiety testing from home in that regard,” said Christina E. Sarisky, RPR, a freelance reporter from Rutherford, N.J.

Brittany Blesener, RPR, an official court reporter from Chaska, Minn., agrees that the best benefit to online testing is “taking it at your own time, one leg at a time, instead of having a set date.”

First-time online test-taker Megan Orris, RPR, an official court reporter from Middleburg, Penn., said she personally likes the online testing for the skills portion of certification because it makes things go quickly and, rather than the six to eight weeks it takes to receive official results from a brick-and-mortar site, online official results are emailed within three to seven days.

“I think people can get nervous over having to wait a period of time to know whether they passed or failed a test,” she noted.

For candidates preparing to take any of the NCRA online skills tests, veteran test-takers and Marybeth Everhart, RPR, CRI, CPE, national marketing manager for Realtime Coach, agree that practicing is also an important factor for ensuring success.

NCRA recently made available on its YouTube channel a series of nine online testing instructional videos created by Realtime Coach that cover the entire process from a basic orientation to scheduling the actual test. The short videos were designed to provide candidates with an easy-to-use resource for prepping.

“Online testing instructional videos were created, so candidates can quickly and easily refresh their recollection of a step or two of the testing process, or replay a step multiple times if needed,” said Everhart. ”With testing instructions now available in print and video formats, candidates can select the format that best suits their needs.”

Additional security measures required by the online system include candidates signing a mandatory confidentiality form that indicates that the subject and words of the test will not be disclosed to other candidates and proctors that are connected to candidates in real time, with live audio and video connections that include a view and live feed of the candidate’s monitor through screen-sharing technology. Candidates are also required to use an external webcam to show that their workspace is secure by giving a 360-degree pan of the entire room and desk or workspace.

Under the online system, NCRA allows candidates to take up to three skills test attempts in each quarter. For information visit NCRA’s online skills testing page.

Top 15 tips to master online testing

testing-tips-lightbulbBy Marybeth Everhart

  1. Review the Detailed Instructions found on myRealtimeCoach.com and NCRA.org/testing.
  2. Practice the testing process. We all tend to practice just the steno portion of an exam. It won’t matter how good a writer you are if you cannot complete the test online!
  3. Send an email to yourself and attach a steno note file. You’ll need to attach a steno note file when testing, and the process of navigating to those files on your computer is the same. Practice it until you can do it in your sleep!
  4. Send an email to yourself and attach a transcript file from your CAT software. The process is the same as attaching a transcript during testing.
  5. Don’t make this harder than it is. You don’t need to make a PDF or RTF or any other non-CAT format, but you do need to know where to find your files and what to look for.
  6. Know how to copy and paste your transcript from your CAT software. Read the section of the Detailed Instructions about your software so you’re comfortable with it, and practice, practice, practice.
  7. Use the free practice tests on myRealtimeCoach.com to practice the testing procedure! The practicing process is identical to the testing procedure. The more comfortable you are, the less nervous you’ll be for the actual test.
  8. Use the same equipment to test that you practice on. Test day is not the time to introduce something new.
  9. Take at least one proctored practice. Two free proctored practices are included with your test registration, so use them.
  10. Don’t install anything new or download any updates between your proctored practice and your actual test.
  11. Practice, take a proctored test, and take your test in the same location. Don’t take your proctored practice at the office and test at home!
  12. Test at approximately the same day and time as your proctored practice. Your Internet speed may fluctuate throughout the day, so be sure it’s sufficient at the time you plan to test.
  13. Practice with your headphones on! That’s how you’ll be taking the test.
  14. Analyze your practice performance. Remember, practice makes permanent, not necessarily perfect! Identify your common weaknesses and resolve them! If using myRealtimeCoach, pay attention to the Focused Feedback and remember to stop, look, and change what needs to be fixed.
  15. Ready, begin: Two words, four syllables, ten letters. Don’t let these words be your undoing on test day. Every practice session should begin with that phrase, followed by a few short, sweet, and simple words of encouragement.

Watch a series of short videos with step-by-step instructions for completing an online skills test on NCRA’s YouTube channel.

Marybeth Everhart, RPR, CRI, CPE, is the national marketing manager at RealtimeCoach, a realtime trainer, and former court reporter. She can be reached at meverhart@learnrealtime.com.