Always Improve

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Improvements by the year:
Year 1 (student): theory, passing my first 5-minute tests
Year 2 (student): mastering common homonyms, passing the RPR
Year 3 (reporter): sorting numbers, mastering prefixes/suffixes, developing QWERTY macros, learning realtime hookups, developing cap last, using quotes
Year 4 (reporter): learning captioning hookups, mastering organization in finance, mastering fingerspelling
Year 5 (reporter): tying up loose ends, focusing on speed

The great thing about court reporting is that there are always things to work on, whether speed, macros, or problematic words. Search for weakness! Highlight it. Eliminate it. Maybe your problem is that one of your prefixes or suffixes are the same, and you need to change one. Maybe your weakness is that compound words connect when you really meant them to be two words – always put an asterisk in the second stroke of a compound word. Perhaps your weakness is that you never learned how to create a macro. It’s never too late!

When I first graduated from court reporting school, I spent the first year working on QWERTY macros to speed up my editing time. This is tedious work, and I amassed over 100 different macros for the QWERTY board before leaving freelancing for captioning 1.5 years later.

When I entered captioning, there were so many things to remember. There was so much to set up. (I have an in-depth post on how to set up for captioning, if you’re considering it.) I was trying to remember every little detail and every requirement.

I have been in reporting for a little over two years now. I’ve done a realtime trial, captioning, freelance, and now I do transcripts for a radio show every morning, which I like the best. I’ve been an employee for a firm and an independent contractor. Two years in, I know Eclipse really well. I have every QWERTY macro I want. I know how to organize for taxes really well.

In captioning/producing drafts, you don’t need many macros. Freelance requires a lot more for efficiency.

Now my list (you should always keep one in your notebook) for what I want to improve is small and manageable. Among the things left on my list: Rarer homonyms that I want to remember, Eclipse spellcheck to improve, briefs with commas I’m still working on, and how to add a speaker into my dictionary from my steno board. In school, the list of what I had to improve was endless, and it was daunting. All that goes away with diligence.

It took me five years (2 in college, 2.5 in reporting, and .5 waiting for the okay to work) to get to my dream job. I wake up every morning at 8:00. I’m on the air at 8:08, and I finish at 11:20, all the while getting paid nearly three times the average American salary.

If you work to be the best, money will come to you. The people that are the most passionate will end up where they want to be. I knew I didn’t want big trials and lots of travel; I wanted a quiet life with lots of time left to focus on hobbies and health. That’s what I found. Whatever you want out of life, you can find it in steno.

I want to close with this: The two things that are the most important in steno are passion (to be the best you can be) and networking.

5 thoughts on “Always Improve

  1. How long did it take you to finish court reporting school? I’m in the last level working on my 225 at 3 minutes, but my class ends in September, and I don’t think I will be able to pass 225 at 5-minutes for QA by then. I started February 2013. I will attempt the RPR in October online though.

    • Michelle,

      I just made a post on my progress in school.
      I took the RPR as many times as I could once I was around the 160 mark, and it shows dedication that you are too. Take it as many times as you can, and do not fall off the bandwagon of practicing every day – you will eventually pass.

  2. Thank you Melody!

    I am a CRAH student at lesson #7.

    You have no idea how much you motivate students who read your words to keep going, keep practicing, and keep doing the best we can!

    Have a terrific day!

    • Hey Debi,

      I was offered the job. There are few radio jobs since most radio shows don’t need transcription. If you provide great realtime though, they are always looking for backup people, which is what I started as. As people move on for one reason or another, then the job opens up.

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