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What to Expect During YOUR Professional Semester Part 2

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The following is a brief interview with Margaret Abernathy, a high-speed student currently completing her internship. If you are wondering about what to expect when you get out in the real world, you'll want to read this:

Where are you interning and is there anyone that you're directly job shadowing?

I am currently interning under Porter County Superior Court II's official reporter, Alice Hadden.

What are some of your responsibilities at your internship?

My responsibilities include observing what Alice does and asking questions, when appropriate, taking proceedings down by machine shorthand while sitting next to Alice, being professional and courteous to all the parties, and, of course, to maintain discretion and confidentiality in and out of the courtroom. While it is not my responsibility, I have had the opportunity to help Alice bind transcripts for appeals.

I also intern under LeAnn M. Hibler, CSR, RMR, CRR, NCRA Certified CART Provider, and owner of LMH Certified Reporting in Joliet, Illinois. She is a former president of the ILCRA that I met at the NCRA National Convention in Nashville. She has graciously allowed me to shadow her during a few Will-Grundy Center for Independent Living board meetings where she is the CART provider. The board meetings were a great experience for me. There were approximately 12 to 16 board members in attendance, and, at times, many of them would be trying to speak at one time. Since LeAnn used a screen to project the captioning to the room, I was able to look at her screen and follow her lead. She never once interrupted; however, one of the board members would usually speak up and tell the others to speak one at a time.

Talk about the importance of professional dress and conduct at your internship.

Professional dress needs to be in accordance with what type of reporting you are doing. In court I always have on dress slacks, a nice blouse and a jacket, or a suit. However, LeAnn advises that, when you are providing CART, you need to dress for the job. One should try to blend in with the attendees; so it is best not to show up to a college room setting where everyone is in jeans and a sweatshirt in the same attire worn to court or a deposition setting unless scheduling doesn't permit otherwise. Therefore, when I go to the CIL board meetings, I wear nice slacks and a nice shirt. In the courtroom, I am front and center with nothing in front of me except my equipment. If I weren't dressed properly, I would feel very uncomfortable, like I didn't belong there. I believe presenting yourself professionally in dress and conduct helps earn you credibility early on with those for whom you may be working with or for in the future. After one of my days in court on the way out to my car, I was actually asked by an attorney if I would like to sit in on a deposition he had the next day. Of course, I politely declined stating that I would have to have permission from the court reporter and his or her agency first. But it made me feel good. I felt like I represented myself and our school well to have been asked that by an attorney.

How are you balancing your responsibilities for your internship and any work that you still have to do for CCR (if any)?

Balancing the internship, schooling, and family life, especially during the holidays, can be a daunting task. But life is a balancing act, period. The more hectic it is, the more I have to rely on a game plan, or time-management plan, and stick to it as closely as I can. However, I find it helps to be moderately flexible because life throws things at you that you simply cannot plan for or foresee. So in addition to having a TMP, I do what's called a priority checklist that includes things I absolutely have to do today, things I need to do today, and things that should be done today but can wait. By prioritizing, I make sure I get done what absolutely has to be done while allowing room to push things to another day in the event something comes up that required my immediate attention. This allows me to remain more calm and tackle things in a more efficient and rational manner.

What advice do you have for students who have started their professional semester?

My advice to students newly starting the internship program would be to keep up with your TMP; dress and act accordingly at all times; be prepared to hear anything, including humor, in any setting; practice your poker face for all situations; and, perhaps most importantly, go to conventions and network. It not only helps you find people you may want to intern under, but you can learn so much that will help prepare you for your internship and beyond from the vast wealth of experienced reporters at the conventions.

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