I’ve said for a very long time that court reporting has given me so many incredible experiences, friendships, and opportunities that I believe it is my duty (also a pleasure, truth be told) to give back. Paying it forward to the next generation of court reporters is something I feel compelled to do.
SKILLS AND NETWORKING
Always a believer in attaining certifications to show accomplishment and skill mastery, I proceeded over a decade to achieve master-level certifications in both machine shorthand and voice stenography, an educator certification, a certification in specialized educational realtime.
In order to receive continuing education, attendance at professional conferences was something I planned for yearly. During those conferences, professional contacts were made that created not only opportunities for networking services but also for long-term friendships.
We all have something to give and often we need to step out of our comfort zones to share perspective, and so when asked to serve in leadership in our state and then also represent our state at national meetings, I accepted. During my time in the state associations, my service ranged from membership and meeting planning committees to executive board office.
Having seen so many new reporters struggle with making the transition from student to working reporter/small business owner, I felt the call to be a mentor. Honestly, I can say that in my 20-plus years of mentoring, this feels like one of my most favorite and rewarding things I have done. Many mentees have decided the career wasn’t for them but we’ve remained friends; others have flourished in the profession and I couldn’t be prouder that not only was I able to help but that they continue to share with me their experiences and friendship.
When an opportunity presented itself to speak to the local law school about working with court reporters in making the official record, I jumped in. Not everyone knows what we do and getting a chance to share with future litigators a slice of how we do our job, well, that helps not only the litigators of the future, but also the reporters of the future.
Many people will say they don’t have time to give back – family obligations, work obligations take precedence. I totally get it. Maybe table the heavy volunteering for when your family has a more forgiving schedule, but perhaps offer a few hours a year to committee service or a phone bank or even offering to cover a table at a local bar association meeting or judges conference. When you’re ready, think about what aspect of the profession is your passion and seek to volunteer there. When you’re passionate about a topic, speaking about it and giving of your time doesn’t feel oppressive but instead brings joy.
NEXT STEPS AND REWARDS
Reach out to your state and/or national organization and see if there’s a place ready for you to jump in and help. Or reach out to the local law school litigation section and inquire about a “visiting speaker” session that you could give. Perhaps have a table at your local career fair. Become a mentor.
More often than not, your service will garner little recognition as you may work behind the scenes but the work that is accomplished will be critically important for the preservation of our profession. In the end, though, it’s the words of the people who’ve been touched by your service that will be the best reward. “Thank you for being you” can be the best words you’ll ever hear.