7 ways to differentiate yourself as a job candidate

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According to industry projections, in less than five years the demand for court reporting will exceed supply, resulting in more than 5,000 open positions. However, you cannot assume that simply having a court reporting degree will get you hired. Naturally, the most important piece to getting hired is to hone your craft, and you can only do so through practice, but this alone is not enough, as everyone else looking for court reporting and captioning positions will have the same skill sets.

Whether you are a student or a seasoned professional looking for a new opportunity, these seven principles will help you secure that next job.

Networking

Everyone you meet is part of your network and could end up being instrumental in helping you build a successful career, and you should treat them accordingly. Always be courteous and professional in your interactions. This includes instructors and classmates in school, people you meet at your state association and NCRA events, and people you meet at your internships.

Cathy Carpenter, a freelance reporter from Seminole, Fla., and the 2016 recipient of NCRF’s New Professional Reporter Grant, agrees that networking is a must.

“I can’t stress enough how important it is to network with as many reporters as you can,” Carpenter says. “The knowledge and support I get from others in our field is invaluable. There are a lot of firms out there. Speak with multiple reporters who work for different firms to get information on policies and procedures and then find the best fit for you.”

Get involved

Getting involved with an organization such as NCRA or your state association provides an opportunity to network and show other reporters and future employers how passionate you are about the profession.

“I met one of the owners of the firm I work with through our state association while I was a student, and after my initial phone call, another reporter that was in the office at the time remembered me from past conventions,” says Carpenter. “Court reporters love to help students, and they remember the ones that attend meetings and conventions and ask questions.”

Make the most of your membership by attending events and joining a committee. As a student, you can earn a free membership to NCRA through NCRF’s Oral Histories Program by transcribing two interviews, and it doubles as great practice to hone your craft.

Find a mentor

“I was very fortunate to grow up with a family-owned court reporting business,” says Angela Baker, RPR, president of Depo International. “When I was 12, I began frequenting the Depo International office after school and in the summers. I thought it was super fun to work in the production department with all of the fancy copy machines and stamps and assortment of pens and Post-Its galore. My mom – court reporter extraordinaire [Patricia Carl] – still brings up the time my bestie tagged along with me to the office, and we made up our own business cards for Angela Carl & Associates. That’s really where it all started.”

Even without a familial connection, you can find a mentor. Find a court reporter or captioner whom you admire, and ask them if they’d be willing to meet for coffee or schedule a phone call to discuss the profession. The term mentor often sounds more official than it needs to be. It can be a casual relationship between an established professional and an aspiring one, built through an initial conversation soliciting advice. You might even already have a mentor without realizing it.

Once you have a meeting set up, prepare a few initial questions (e.g. How did you get into court reporting? What advice would you give a student like me who aspires to own my own firm?). Then let the conversation flow from there. The last question you ask should always be “May I stay in touch with you?” With their permission, you can continue to reach out periodically to ask a question, share an exciting update, or schedule another coffee or lunch. You should follow up after the initial meeting with a thank-you though since they are a busy professional who took time away from work to help you. This can be an email, but a handwritten thank-you note will set you apart. After a few interactions, you’ll have built a relationship, and when you’re job hunting, you can ask this person if they have any advice on where to look.

“My first jobs out of school were facilitated through my mentors,” Carpenter says. “They put me in touch with firm owners or were firm owners themselves.” Carpenter’s mentors vouched for her work ethic and professionalism to help get her started.

You can also find mentors through NCRA’s Virtual Mentor Program, and many state associations have their own mentoring programs as well.

Treat your internships like a job

Some students treat their internship as yet another requirement for graduation. Successful students, however, will treat it as a semester-long job interview and will soak up as much knowledge and experience as possible.

“[Students] have a great deal to learn to become a seasoned reporter or captioner,” said Audrey Greco, vice president of business development for Karasch & Associates. “During their internship, they have experienced all of the various types of jobs, i.e. video depositions, depositions, arbitrations, hearings, classes, events, remote, on-site, etc. whether it be in captioning or litigation in order to build confidence.”

Your internship supervisors will be your references for jobs and may even hire you themselves if they are able.

Résumé

All your involvement and internships will mean nothing if your résumé isn’t perfect. Remember that you are entering a profession where accuracy is required, and your résumé is no exception.

“Spell-check your résumé! So many times we see spelling or grammatical errors, and, unfortunately, those candidates do not get an interview,” Baker says.

Firms often have different preferences for résumés and cover letters. When approaching a firm about a job (either to be an employee or as a freelancer), it’s helpful to use your network to find someone at the firm to ask what they are looking for specifically. For instance, Baker is looking for something that stands out: “In order to set yourself apart with a résumé in our age of technology, a video résumé would be outstanding. At a minimum, put a professional photo of yourself on the cover letter. This will add a personal touch, make you relevant and different, and show your enthusiasm for working in this very rewarding and interesting profession.”

Certifications

Add some letters after your name to further differentiate yourself. Certifications showcase your dedication to the profession and commitment to improving yourself to be the best reporter possible.

For some, certifications will be a requirement for getting hired, “as clients are requesting certified providers more and more,” Greco notes. Certifications can set clients’ minds at ease knowing that they have hired a qualified reporter. Greco also suggests becoming a notary.

Ultimately, as more reporters add certifications to their names, you must do the same or get left behind.

Intangibles

There are always little things that you can’t put on your résumé, but you can do to set yourself apart from others.

“We are most interested in hiring team players who are accountable, professional, reliable, and willing to go the extra mile to meet the standard of service that we are known for,” says Baker. “Service to our clients is of the utmost importance, and we always strive to go above and beyond the standard. Basically, we seek out individuals who love their profession.”

“Be punctual, be present, communicate, never be afraid to ask a question, and always strive for excellence,” Baker adds. “Keep up on technology. You will be working with the most brilliant, educated pool of clients — trial lawyers — and being kind and respectful, in addition to seeking to always perform at 100 percent, will set you apart.”

This is where networking and internships are really important as these people can vouch for your professionalism, punctuality, reliability, and the standard of your work.

By following each of these recommendations, you should be well on your way to securing that first job out of school. For additional help, look for articles on each of these individual principles in future editions of the JCR.

April Weiner is the Foundation Manager for the National Court Reporters Foundation. She can be reached at aweiner@ncra.org.

Looking for a job? Visit NCRA’s online classifieds to see what’s currently available.

What is NCRF’s Corrinne Clark Professionalism Institute?

In 2015, the National Court Reporters Foundation established the Corrinne Clark Professionalism Institute, which is dedicated to aiding the education of court reporting students and new professionals about professionalism, branding, and building a successful career. Named for the late Corrinne Clark — wife of the late Robert H. Clark, NCRA’s longest tenured librarian-historian — the Institute was made possible by a generous donation contributed by Donna Hamer, Santa Paula, Calif., Robert’s cousin.

Volunteers raise more than $35,000 during NCRF’s annual fundraising phone-a-thon

NCRF phone-a-thon volunteers

Left to right: Laurie Shingle, Jane Fitzgerald, Bonni Shuttleworth, and Joan McQuinn

Six court reporters from across the country raised more than $35,000 during NCRF’s annual fundraising phone-a-thon between April 27 and May 6. The volunteers made thousands of calls and generated donations from $10 to $995 over the course of two weeks.

The annual phone-a-thon supports NCRF’s programs, including:

  • the Oral Histories Program, which raises public awareness about the court reporting profession by capturing and transcribing the poignant oral histories of American wartime veterans, Holocaust survivors, and attorneys who have provided pro bono services;
  • the Student Initiatives Program, which provides four scholarships to high-achieving students each year and free student memberships to NCRA for those students who transcribe two histories from the Oral Histories Program;
  • the New Professional Reporter Grant, awarded annually to a stand-out emerging court reporter in his or her first year out of school; and
  • the Corrinne Clark Professionalism Institute, which educates students and new reporters about professionalism, branding, and building a successful career.
Another NCRF phone-a-thon volunteer

Kathy Cortopassi

“It is my absolute pleasure to be able to give back to NCRF knowing that this is one way for me to pay it forward and help those who are pursuing the path to court reporting,” said Michael Hensley, RPR, a freelance first-year reporter from Evanston, Ill., who contributed to this year’s phone-a-thon. “During my time as a court reporting student, it was such a blessing to receive help with costs of schooling to ease the burden of financial stress. I’m grateful that NCRF provides this opportunity, and I highly encourage every working reporter to pitch in to keep the dream alive for those wishing to join our ranks.”

Volunteers for this year’s effort included Kathy Cortopassi, RMR, CRR, CRC, Dyer, Ind.; NCRF Trustee Jane Fitzgerald, RMR, Des Moines, Iowa; NCRF Trustee Joan McQuinn, RPR, CMRS, Rockford, Ill.; former NCRF Trustee Laurie Shingle, RPR, CMRS, Pleasant View, Utah; Bonni Shuttleworth, CRI, CPE, Crestwood, Ill.; and NCRA President-elect Tiva Wood, RDR, CMRS, Mechanicsburg, Pa.

“Volunteering to help raise awareness and support for the Foundation and its many generous programs is an exciting honor,” said Wood. “Making the calls is a wonderful opportunity to talk with members, learn more about them, and ensure that they know how important their donations are and how appreciative the Foundation is of their willingness to give. I would urge anyone who wants to experience an opportunity to reach out to their fellow members and to experience the meaningfulness of volunteering to support a profession they are passionate about to consider helping with future NCRF fundraising activities.”

“NCRF launched its annual phone-a-thon in the mid-1990s and has relied on using member volunteers to make the calls rather than an outside company because of the high success rate of the peer-to-peer outreach,” said B.J. Shorak, NCRF Deputy Executive Director.

“I have participated in the phone-a-thon on several occasions,” said Fitzgerald. “I volunteer because I feel it is important to support your profession through its Association and Foundation — and I enjoy talking with reporters across the country!”

If the volunteers missed you during the phone-a-thon or you’d like to give to NCRF, please call 800-272-6272 to make your 100 percent tax-deductible donation.

Managing your online reputation in an increasingly social world

By April Weiner

Sponsored by NCRF’s Corrinne Clark Professionalism Institute

online reputationIt’s hard to imagine a time before social media had such a strong presence in our lives. It’s become commonplace to share almost everything on social media — images of food, momentary insights, and weekend plans. But it is important to consider how social media influences professional image.

According to a PEW Research Center poll, 74 percent of Internet users use at least one social networking site. This means users range from personal friends, to family, to instructors, to hiring managers. Students can bet that anything they or their friends ever post can be seen by all of these people at any point in time. By the time that students graduate and are looking for work, they may have forgotten what they posted that first year in school, but rest assured that the Internet did not.

Avoiding social media, however, is not a good strategy either. The trick is to manage the risks and cultivate a professional image. Used properly, social media has professional benefits for students as well.

“Social media has allowed some graduates the opportunity to easily network with employers in different states and then, ultimately, relocate to another state,” said Nicky Rodriquez, the director of admission at College of Court Reporting in Hobart, Ind. “Some of those opportunities may not have come about without social media.”

Kensie Benoit, an official in Groves, Texas, found the ability to network with employers to be valuable when she was job hunting.

“I tried out for four officialships before [my current position],” said Benoit. “All of them were referrals from people I had only known online. I put the word out there that I was looking for an officialship, and people starting tagging me in all sorts of job postings online.”

Another benefit of using social media professionally is access to online groups of like-minded professionals, which offer both the opportunity for skill building and camaraderie.

“I’m able to help new reporters when they have job-related questions and also debate some issues affecting reporters/captioners in general,” said Laura Fowler, RPR, CRR, CRC, a firm owner from Modesto, Calif. “It’s a great way to keep up on our profession. It’s awesome when I or someone else needs help with anything and all we have to do is post the question and everyone responds quickly with great answers.”

“It is our lifeline to the world,” said Jennifer Bonfilio, RMR, CRR, CRC, a captioner from Delray Beach, Fla. “It baffles me how captioners were able to do their jobs before the Internet, not only from a research perspective but on human interaction perspective.”

“The field has shifted so that our professionals now mostly work from their homes, with few, if any, interactions in an office setting,” said Karen Yates, RPR, CRR, CRC, a CART captioner from Minden, Nev. “Social media now fills the role of a virtual break room. We vent our frustrations, get advice, seek recommendations on software and hardware.” Yates also pointed out that online forums give professionals an opportunity to connect with people they would not be able to meet face to face.

The value of social media groups is not limited only to working professionals; joining these groups as a student can provide a bit of a leg up while learning about court reporting and captioning.

“[I] vet questions from working reporters on scenarios that I know I will one day face myself,” said Katherine Schilling, a court reporting student at West Valley College in Saratoga, Calif. “I like to think that I can avoid making some mistakes when I start working by learning from those who have already gone through it.”

There are so many benefits of using social media, but the key is being cautious with profiles and posts. Keep the “Ps” in mind:

Pause before you post

Sometimes, simply taking a few seconds to reconsider a post is enough to maintain a professional appearance. “Assume anything and everything will be seen by anyone and everyone,” said Bonfilio. “If you wouldn’t say or do it in front of your grandmother, employer, child, police officer, or competitor, then don’t post it online. Once it’s out there, you can’t take it back.”

A few moments of reflection is especially important for students who are making connections with potential employers. “Put [yourself] in the employers’ shoes before commenting, liking, or sharing on social media,” said Natalie Kijurna, coordinator of graduate and employer relations at College of Court Reporting in Hobart, Ind. “Would you hire someone who liked the comment, ‘The last 12 minutes in the restroom were the most productive part of my work day’? Probably not.”

Students who are interested in captioning, especially, should consider the accessibility of their content. “I think it’s a huge disrespect to clients to post and retweet videos and media without captions,” said Mirabai Knight, RDR, CRR, CRC, a CART captioner from New York, N.Y.

Proofread

Despite the popularity of text-speak online, court reporters and captioners should make sure to use more proper English in their posts.

“I know of individuals that were not given jobs based solely off of their punctuation and grammar online,” said Benoit. “As petty as that may sound, would we hire a scopist or proofreader that didn’t have good punctuation or grammar? No.”

Positivity

It’s obvious from any comments section online – people can be unkind on the Internet. “It still astounds me when I see inappropriate or just nasty posts online,” said Schilling. “Some students think that the screen protects them from the consequences of their actions online, which will only result in a rude awakening down the line.”

However, part of being a professional involves responding to others politely and compassionately. “A lot of people ask for help and people criticize them for that,” said Angie Starbuck, RDR, CRR, CRC, a freelancer reporter in Columbus, Ohio. “We should help them out, not tear them down.” After all, everyone needs help sometime — a student who has already presented themselves as a professional will more likely be treated as one by others.

Provocativeness

Even though many profiles are created for personal reasons, developing a more professional profile often means avoiding certain kinds of content. “Students should stay away from negative commentary about current or former employers, politics, religion, or anything that could potentially reflect poorly on your character,” Kijurna said.

Each professional will need to determine where they draw the line on provocative content based on their priorities, comfort level, or even their position. Yates, for example, was careful with the type of language she would permit on her page not just from herself but from her contacts. “When I was on NCRA’s board, I didn’t permit anything with profanity on my Facebook page,” Yates said. Yates was also concerned about being too associated with extreme religious or political views while she was such a public figure within the association. “I unfriended some family members and friends who posted very religious or political content. I would not permit anyone to tag me in a photo unless I could see it and okay it first.”

Be aware of the message your pictures send as well. “Pictures say 1,000 words and can be someone’s first impression,” Starbuck said. “Unfortunately, it’s hard to recover from a bad first impression.”

Permanency

It is possible that posts from one, two, five, or ten years ago are still accessible online. Review old content to make sure potential employers will not come across anything embarrassing. “Whether you’re looking for a job now or two years from now, you never know who’s going to come across it,” Starbuck said.

“Don’t get caught thinking you can permanently delete a post,” Rodriquez said. It is possible that the post had been captured in a screenshot prior to the user deleting it.

Privacy is an illusion

Facebook has a variety of privacy settings, and it is a good idea to learn how to use them, but nothing on social media is truly private.

“Remember, when you post something, even though you are posting it for your [online] friends’ viewing, it is entirely possible that your audience is much wider than you anticipated,” said Bonfilio.

Rodriquez adds that this is true even in closed, private groups. Anyone in the group can see posts or can screenshot a post and share it with an outside audience. Knight also points out that groups that are primarily for court reporters or captioners may have a wider membership. “I know a lot of deaf and hard of hearing people will join closed groups because they want to follow the profession,” said Knight.

Plurality

Some people may find that the easiest solution is keeping personal and professional lives separate. “Consider setting up a separate identity that is strictly for work-related interactions, and carefully segregate your personal online presence,” Yates said.

Bonfilio agrees. “It’s a good idea to have one account that’s just for business (or just for personal stuff),” she said. “If you do mix the two, take the time to configure the security settings so your personal posts are only seen by your family and friends.”

Probe into the past

It’s a good idea for student to audit their online presence a couple times of year by conducting a Google search of themselves (especially when done from a computer they don’t use). This allows students to know what’s out there with their name on it and take steps to remove or hide unwanted content when possible.

“This semester, I started to fill my YouTube channel with video tutorials on Eclipse features for students,” Schilling said. “I’d forgotten about a video I’d made years ago that was unrelated … and didn’t show me in the best light.” Schilling has since been more conscious of her online content.

Personality

”You can’t take yourself too flippantly online. Even if you create something intended for one audience, you can’t always control who will see it,” said Schilling. However, despite the fact that it might seem like there are a lot of rules to follow, remember to have fun and show a little personality behind that professional demeanor.

“There’s a fine line between being professional and a corporate shell,” Knight said. “You’re not going to build lasting relationships if you’re only thinking about driving business.”

April Weiner is the Foundation Assistant for the National Court Reporters Foundation. She can be reached at aweiner@ncra.org.

What is NCRF’s Corrinne Clark Professionalism Institute?

In 2015, the National Court Reporters Foundation established the Corrinne Clark Professionalism Institute, which is dedicated to aiding the education of court reporting students and new professionals about professionalism, branding, and building a successful career. Named for the late Corrinne Clark — wife of the late Robert H. Clark, NCRA’s longest tenured librarian-historian — the Institute was made possible by a generous donation contributed by Donna Hamer, Santa Paula, Calif., Robert’s cousin. In addition, Hamer also made a generous donation to the Foundation to support a scholarship in honor of Robert. The scholarship will be awarded in the amount of $1,800 annually through 2019 to an eligible court reporting student. The first scholarship was awarded by NCRF in October 2015.

 

NCRF: Honoring the Clarks of court reporting

Last fall the National Court Reporters Foundation established the Corrinne Clark Professionalism Institute, which is dedicated to aiding the education of court reporting students and new professionals about professionalism, branding, and building a successful career. The Institute was officially unveiled during the Student Seminar Program at the 2015 NCRA Convention & Expo in New York City with an inaugural event that featured a panel on professional dress.

Named for the late Corrinne Clark — wife of the late Robert H. Clark, NCRA’s longest tenured librarian-historian — the Institute was made possible by a generous donation made by Donna Hamer, Santa Paula, Calif., Robert’s cousin. At the same time, Hamer also made a generous donation to the Foundation to support a scholarship in honor of Robert. The scholarship will be awarded in the amount of $1,800 annually through 2019 to an eligible court reporting student. The first scholarship was awarded by NCRF in October 2015.

“Corrinne loved the national court reporters [organization] with a capital L. She attended all the conferences with Bobby and shared his devotion to the court reporting profession,” said Hamer and noted that Corrinne often mentioned her wish to make substantial contribution to NCRF. “When Corrinne passed away, I learned that I was one of her beneficiaries. I realized that I could make her wish come true. I was delighted that the Professional Institute could be named after her. Corrine always supported the goal of being a professional in her own work, and she especially valued professionalism among Bob’s colleagues.”

Although NCRF Board of Trustees chair Jan Ballman, RPR, CMRS, Minneapolis, Minn., never had the pleasure of meeting Corrinne, she said that she feels strongly that Corrinne would be honored to have her legacy associated with an initiative focused on supporting and training the industry’s newest professionals and helping to ensure their long-term success in court reporting.

“The NCRF Trustees felt privileged to name the Professionalism Institute after Corrinne especially in acknowledgment of and appreciation for a significant gift to the Foundation. We are grateful that Corrinne’s love for Bob, his profession, and especially NCRF, led to her legacy gift to the Foundation,” Ballman said.

Although not a court reporter herself, as a journalist Corrinne actively kept up with current affairs and was active in politics, said Hamer. She was a founding member of a women’s Los Angeles–based group that focuses on bringing political issues to its members and, in the early days of television, was an active participant in a number of shows as well as a choreographer for them. Hamer said that her love of dance led her to learn the native dances of Hawaii, which she later taught to students in the Los Angeles area.

“Those who knew Corrinne always remembered her flaming red hair, her beautiful smile, and her distinctive laugh. I’m certain Corrinne would be proud to have her name attached to the Professionalism Institute,” Hamer said.

The Professional Institute’s first event was well-attended and featured a panel of professional court reporters discussing proper dress in the workplace. It included a stylist from Macy’s department store who offered tips to achieve a professional look on a budget.

In the future, the CCPI will secure articles for publication in the JCR that will be related to the court reporting and captioning profession. The articles will address student and new professional-specific issues to provide a resource for those beginning their professional careers. The CCPI will also support various presentations at future NCRA Conventions & Expos.

More information about the Corrinne Clark Professionalism Institute or the Robert H. Clark Scholarship is available through NCRA.org/NCRF.

 About the Clarks

Corrine Clark was born in San Diego, Calif., and grew up in the Ocean Beach area. She attended St. Mary’s Academy as a child and graduated from Immaculate Heart High School where she played on the school’s tennis team. Although her parents wanted her enter the convent, Corrinne chose journalism instead and attended Los Angeles City College. There she met her future husband, Robert H. Clark, who was also a journalism student.

After marrying, the Clarks lived in Long Beach. During World War II, Robert joined the U.S. Coast Guard as a court reporter while Corrinne worked for the Long Beach Independent, which later became the Long Beach Press Telegram.

A lover of dance, Corrinne began work as a choreographer for a number of early television shows. She was also a participant on Art Linkletter’s People are Funny and House Party, as well as Groucho Marx’s You Bet Your Life.

In 1993, Robert H. Clark, who voluntarily served as NCRA’s librarian and historian for 26 years, donated his extensive college of books, artifacts, and documents related to court reporting to NCRF to help establish the Robert H. Clark Library, which is housed at NCRA’s headquarters in Reston, Va. He was honored with the title of Librarian-Historian Emeritus in 1997. He passed away in 2000. Corrinne passed away in 2005.

During in October 2015, Chaya Shusterman, a student from Brooklyn, N.Y., who is nearing completion of her court reporting education at the New York Career Institute, was named the first recipient of NCRF’s Robert H. Clark Scholarship.

“Robert Clark was totally dedicated to court reporting and curious about everything,” said Donner Hamer, Robert’s cousin who made the generous donation to support the scholarship in his honor. “He always wanted to know how things worked and how to use words to explain it. Everywhere he went, he looked for new ways to use words and interesting court reporting tools.”

Honoring the Clarks of court reporting

Last fall, the National Court Reporters Foundation established the Corrinne Clark Professionalism Institute, which is dedicated to aiding the education of court reporting students and new professionals about professionalism, branding, and building a successful career. The Institute was officially unveiled during the Student Seminar Program at the 2015 NCRA Convention & Expo in New York City with an inaugural event that featured a panel on professional dress.

Named for the late Corrinne Clark — wife of the late Robert (Bob) H. Clark, NCRA’s longest tenured librarian-historian — the Institute was made possible by a generous donation made by Donna Hamer, Santa Paula, Calif., Bob’s cousin. At the same time, Hamer also made a generous donation to the Foundation to support a scholarship in honor of Bob. The scholarship will be awarded in the amount of $1,800 annually through 2019 to an eligible court reporting student. The fi rst scholarship was awarded by NCRF in September 2015.

“Corrinne loved the national court reporters [organization] with a capital L. She attended all the conferences with Bobby and shared his devotion to the court reporting profession,” said Hamer and noted that Corrinne often mentioned her wish to make a substantial contribution to NCRF. “When Corrinne passed away, I learned that I was one of her beneficiaries. I realized that I could make her wish come true. I was delighted that the Professionalism Institute could be named after her. Corrinne always supported the goal of being a professional in her own work, and she especially valued professionalism among Bob’s colleagues,” said Hamer.

Although NCRF Board of Trustees chair Jan Ballman, RPR, CMRS, Minneapolis, Minn., never had the pleasure of meeting Corrinne, she said that she feels strongly that Corrinne would be honored to have her legacy associated with an initiative focused on supporting and training the industry’s newest professionals and helping to ensure their long-term success in court reporting.

“The NCRF Trustees felt privileged to name the Professionalism Institute after Corrinne, especially in acknowledgment of and appreciation for a significant gift to the Foundation. We are grateful that Corrinne’s love for Bob, his profession, and especially NCRF led to her legacy gift to the Foundation,” Ballman said.

Although not a court reporter herself, as a journalist Corrinne actively kept up with current affairs and was active in politics, according to Hamer. She was a founding member of a women’s Los Angeles–based group that focuses on bringing political issues to its members and, in the early days of television, was an active participant in a number of shows as well as a choreographer for them. Hamer said that her love of dance led her to learn the native dances of Hawaii, which she later taught to students in the Los Angeles area.

“Those who knew Corrinne always remembered her flaming red hair, her beautiful smile, and her distinctive laugh. I’m certain Corrinne would be proud to have her name attached to the Professionalism Institute,” Hamer said. The Professionalism Institute’s first event, offered during the 2015 NCRA Convention & Expo, was well attended and featured a panel of professional court reporters discussing proper dress in the workplace. It included a stylist from Macy’s department store who offered tips to achieve a professional look on a budget.

In the future, the Corrinne Clark Professionalism Institute will secure articles for publication in the JCR that will be related to the court reporting and captioning profession. The articles will address student and new professional–specific issues to provide a resource for those beginning their professional careers. The Professionalism Institute will also support various presentations at future NCRA Conventions & Expos.

ABOUT THE CLARKS

Corrinne Clark was born in San Diego, Calif., and grew up in the Ocean Beach area. She attended St. Mary’s Academy as a child and graduated from Immaculate Heart High School, where she played on the school’s tennis team. Although her parents wanted her to enter the convent, Corrinne chose journalism instead and attended Los Angeles City College. There she met her future husband, Robert H. Clark, who was also a journalism student.
After marrying, the Clarks lived in Long Beach. During World War II, Bob joined the U.S. Coast Guard as a court reporter while Corrinne worked for the Long Beach Independent, which later became the Long Beach Press Telegram.

A lover of dance, Corrinne began work as a choreographer for a number of early television shows. She was also a participant on Art Linkletter’s People are Funny and House Party, as well as Groucho Marx’s You Bet Your Life.

In 1993, Bob, who voluntarily served as NCRA’s librarian-historian for 26 years, donated his extensive collection of books, artifacts, and documents related to court reporting to the National Court Reporters Foundation to establish the Robert H. Clark Library, which is housed at NCRA’s headquarters in Reston, Va. He was honored with the title of Librarian-Historian Emeritus in 1997. He passed away in
2000. Corrinne passed away in 2005.

“Robert Clark was totally dedicated to court reporting and curious about  everything,” said Hamer, Robert’s cousin who made the generous donation to support the scholarship in his honor. “He always wanted to know how things worked and how to use words to explain it. Everywhere he went, he looked for new ways to use words and interesting court reporting tools.”

For more information, visit the Corrinne Clark Professionalism Institute.

New Professionals: Tips from the pros

By Annemarie Roketenetz

It’s not uncommon for new professionals in any field to face anxieties when starting out in their chosen career. This is especially true for those entering the court reporting and captioning professions, whether it’s a new internship or a new job.

But take heed, newbies. According to the pros, the three major concerns when starting a new position typically involve first impressions, working with others, and making a lasting, positive impression. And there are numerous ways to deal each of them.

According to Kevin Hunt, a freelance reporter and owner of Jack W. Hunt & Associates in Buffalo, N.Y., a first impression can make the difference between landing a job or being shown the door, regardless of how well someone writes. “When a reporter goes to a job, they’re representing the reporting firm as a whole, and if their clothes are inappropriate or they are not well-groomed, that’s probably not the image the firm wishes to present. That goes for not just the visual impression, but the auditory and olfactory impressions as well.”

NCRF Chair Jan Ballman, RMR, CMRS, owner of Paradigm Reporting & Captioning in Minneapolis, Minn., agrees that first impressions are instant. “Whether it’s fair or unfair, we are judged based on how we appear and whether we have our act together. You should be mistaken for counsel, not the witness,” she said. “If you come screeching through the conference room door for a deposition stressed out, in a huff, in a sweat, or otherwise agitated — whether because of traffic, or your GPS sent you on a wild goose chase, or your infant spit up on your shoulder just as you were leaving, or you had to turn back for your power cords — be assured of two things: First, counsel won’t care why you’re late; and, you’ve just started the day in a deficit when it comes to making a good impression.”

Ballman also stresses that the best and easiest way to create a good first impression is to look great, not average and not just good. “Look like you made an effort and that you belong in a room filled with highly educated professionals,” she advises.

In addition to looking professional, acting professional is also important in making a first positive impression. “I feel the most important part of making a good impression is arriving early, being friendly, having a good attitude, and being organized,” says Shelly Hunter, RPR, CRR, owner of Hunter & Geist, Denver, Colo. “As we all know, depositions are often stressful environments. Having someone in the room that is neutral to all parties and that can remain friendly in the midst of chaos can be a game changer. If a deposition is not going so well for a client, the last thing they want is a court reporter with a bad attitude.”

Don’t let your good impression down once you have established it. According to the pros, be sure to take the time to know the firm you plan to work with and understand its culture both in terms of employment and services offered.

In addition, be sure the work you produce is of high quality in terms of accuracy, readability, and usability. Hunt advises having a conversation with the transcript when proofreading. “The ultimate consumer of your service will not know how beautifully you wrote when they were speaking at 300 words per minute, they won’t know how skillfully you navigated the software used to translate, edit, and print the transcript; they will only make a determination of your skill as a reporter through the final presentation of the transcript. What are the attorneys and witness trying to verbally describe? If you don’t understand something, ask. In brief, if you want to know how your clients will judge you, remember this phrase: ‘It’s the transcript, dummy!’”

To help ensure an accurate transcript, new reporters should also not be afraid to interrupt the person who is speaking if they cannot understand what is being said. “I stress to my reporters that you must interrupt and you cannot rely on your audio sync,” says Hunter. “I stress that it is the reporter’s job to interrupt and get a good record.”

Ballman agrees. “As with anything else in life, it’s all about phraseology, phraseology, phraseology. If you can’t hear, you have no choice but to interrupt. It’s all about how you interrupt,” she says. “Think about how you would like to be interrupted if you were deep in thought and delivering a very important point in front of an audience, then practice doing that so it comes naturally when you have to interrupt attorneys in mid-sentence or mid-thought.”

According to the pros, maintaining lasting good impressions also takes work, and new reporters should make it a habit to keep positive attitudes both on and off the job, be helpful to others, and learn to be unflappable in the face of all things in the world of court reporting. “It’s not just a matter of doing a great job once and then being recognized for it; it’s a matter of doing an impeccable job consistently, over and over and over again,” says Ballman. “That’s how you set yourself apart.”

Hunter also advises that new reporters make it a habit to arrive early at jobs to ensure enough time to address any issues that might arise. “You may have forgotten something in your car. You may have trouble with your equipment. You may have gone to the wrong location. Being early allows you extra time to deal with situations that happen to all of us. You have extra time to add entries to your dictionary from the notice or the caption. Arriving early also allows you time to get acquainted with counsels who might have arrived early, as well. And most importantly, as a new reporter, arriving early will give you time to calm your nerves. There is a confidence attorneys have when they know the court reporter is set up ready to go and it is still 20 or 25 minutes before the deposition is to begin,” she says.

“New situations constantly arise, and as a professional court reporter, it is necessary for each of us to be aware of the guidelines that NCRA provides to assist us in acting ethically and professionally,” Friend continues. “While these guidelines from the Committee on Professional Ethics cannot envision every possible situation, they give a framework for all reporters – whether new or seasoned – on how to act appropriately, professionally, and without favoritism to any party in a case,” Friend advises.New professionals also need to ready for any situation that might arise and remain calm. One way is to be prepared, says Doug Friend, RDR, CRR, with Beouvich, Walter & Friend, Portland, Ore.: “Working as a new reporter can be stressful! Here you are on a deposition or in court, and there is no one to hold your hand, so it’s important to be prepared.

NCRA’s Code of Professional Ethics can be found at NCRA.org/CodeofProfessionalEthics.

Annemarie Roketenetz is NCRA’s Assistant Director of Communications. She can be reached at pr@ncra.org.

 

Developed in coordination with the Corrinne Clark Professionalism Institute

The Corrinne Clark Professionalism Institute, NCRF’s newest initiative, officially launched at the 2015 NCRA Convention & Expo. It was developed to educate court reporting students and new professionals about professionalism, branding, and building a successful career. NCRF will be developing materials, such as seminars and articles, for dissemination for court reporting students and new professionals throughout their careers.

The Corrinne Clark Professionalism Institute was created to honor Clark’s lifelong passion for journalism and education, as well as her love of the court reporting profession. Corrinne Clark is the wife of Robert H. Clark, for whom the NCRF library is named.

NCRF launches Corrinne Clark Professionalism Institute with panel on professional dress

Prof. Dress_Panel

Panalists Lisa DiMonte, Rick Levy, and Ellen Grauer discuss the importance of professional dress from a firm owner’s perspective

The Corrinne Clark Professionalism Institute – NCRF’s newest initiative – officially launched at the 2015 NCRA Convention & Expo with a panel for students and new professionals (as well as veterans looking for fresh tips) on professional dress. Firm owners Jan Ballman, RPR, CMRS; Lisa DiMonte, RMR, CMRS; Rick Levy, RPR; and Ellen Grauer discussed the importance of a professional presentation, and a representative from My Stylist @ Macy’s provided tips on building a professional wardrobe.

Court reporters are surrounded by lawyers, judges, and others who are highly educated and have high standards. In order to help court reporters look like they belong on the legal team, they need to dress the part. Choosing smart, quality, timeless pieces of business clothing will not only earn the lawyers’ respect but also give the reporters more confidence. The panelists reminded the audience that reporters need to dress in a way that represents the firm’s brand, and this can affect whether a reporter gets a job in the future.

A Macy's stylist shows examples of attractive professional clothing

A Macy’s stylist shows examples of attractive professional clothing

When choosing clothing, keep in mind that court reporters need to be comfortable while sitting in front of their machine or moving around to plug in equipment, etc. Conservative, classic pieces are always appropriate. Every reporter should have tailored button-down shirts, tailored pants, and a suit in black, navy, and/or gray. Men should expect to wear a suit and tie and polished shoes, a matching belt, and accessorize with a watch. Women should keep their hemlines and necklines modest and wear basic closed-toe pumps. Other basics for women include a black dress and a signature piece of jewelry, like pearls. Even with these guidelines, it’s important to keep body type in mind to ensure that clothes fit well.

Jan Ballman, NCRF Board of Trustees chair, and Donna Hamer, who donated the funds for the Corrinne Clark Professionalism Institute

Jan Ballman, NCRF Board of Trustees chair, and Donna Hamer, who donated the funds for the Corrinne Clark Professionalism Institute

The NCRF Corrinne Clark Professionalism Institute was developed to educate court reporting students and new professionals about professionalism, branding, and building a successful career. The Corrinne Clark Professionalism Institute was created to honor Clark’s lifelong passion for journalism and education, as well as her love of the court reporting profession. Corrinne Clark is the wife of Robert H. Clark, for whom the NCRF library is named.