on the cheap and sleazy side (www.cheapandsleazy.net)
The Internship Process
Make Your Internship Work for You
Meet Kathie Brodie.
Kathie has been a partner in the Seattle CR firm Treece, Shirley & Brodie for the past 35 years, and has seen a lot of interns pass through her firm's doors. Those experiences prompted her to write a book on the entire internship process, entitled "Court Reporting Intern Book."
When I heard Kathie was going to be talking at the WCRA's April Educational Seminar, I knew I had to attend -- especially because of Kathie's second career, as a Certified Consulting Hypnotist.
Alas, the hypnotic discussion of Kathie's presentation was a bit short ... but I still managed to convince her to whip up an article on internships for ol' Cheap and Sleazy.
In the Beginning ....
You've been in school for ... well, let's just assume long enough to be at the advanced speed level with expectations of passing the test the next time it is given ... and it is now time for you to do your internship.
How do you feel about that? Are you excited? Frightened? Confident? Dreading it or looking forward to it?
Probably a little bit of all of those emotions are roiling through, perhaps several on any given day.
That is to be expected.
It is new and you don't know exactly what to expect or how to go about finding a mentor.
There are only two parts to this equation: The mentor and the intern. Being an intern is the easy part because that's you, so you just be yourself. It's finding the mentor that is the harder part of that equation.
Finding a Mentor: The Difficulties
First let me explain why it could be hard to find a mentor.
As you realize by now, freelance court reporters are paid by the hour and by the page, so any time taken away from that process takes away from their income stream.
Being a mentor on the job is pretty straightforward -- the mentor tells the intern where to sit in the room, the job starts, the job continues, both the mentor and intern are writing like mad, the job ends, then everyone packs up and leaves.
Anyone could be your mentor at that point if that was all there was to it. However, you don't get any education in that situation.
The point of having an internship is so you are prepared to go out and take a job, complete it and file it where it needs to be filed, all with the proper forms and invoices in place.
As the mentor explains all that to you, s/he is taking time away from producing her/his own transcripts.
In my opinion, being a mentor is a privilege: It allows me to give back to the profession and train new reporters on how to keep up the good standards and the professionalism that we enjoy as court reporters.
I have heard that there are others that don't have exactly that same mindset.
My advice, if you are asking, is avoid those reporters. If they are too busy to help you get started, move on to someone who will help you. As a student and intern you have enough stress without having to beg for every tidbit of advice.
Don't get me wrong: I'm not saying negative things about the mentor. S/he may simply be in a position where s/he doesn't have the time or perhaps doesn't have the temperament to share information with a student. There's nothing wrong with that as long as you know it going in. And, as I say, move on to someone else.
As a student/intern, you are entitled to ask the mentor what their expectations are of you. Do they want you to go on jobs with them? Come into the office and do some filing? Answer the office phones? Scope their transcripts for them? Serve their coffee and do their laundry? I'm just kidding about that last one ... but if you don't know what they expect, how can you possibly meet their expectations?
On the other side of the coin, you are entitled to have a good experience and to be hooked up with someone who is willing to help you.
If your school doesn't arrange for you to have a mentor, then you will have to find one on your own.
Finding a Mentor: The Process
Start calling all the firms in town and ask point blank if someone will commit to taking on an intern. When you find that person, my feeling is that you should do a mini interview. You don't have to fall in love with your mentor, but you at least have to be able to tolerate being in the same room with him/her. If you really can't stand your potential mentor, it will be very hard to accept advice from him.
And usually, that dislike is mutual.
That doesn't mean it is good or bad, it just may not be the situation for you. So move on before you waste any more time. Hopefully you can determine the incompatibility before you go on a job together ... and it doesn't take long on the phone or in person to check in with your "gut" and decide if you can stand spending ... what is the requirement, 40 hours now? See if you think you can spend that much time with this person, remembering your time with him is going to mold you into a professional. If push comes to shove and it is either go out with a mentor that you aren't all that fond of or not having a mentor, guess which choice you make?
The Ideal Intern-Mentor Relationship
I feel very strongly that as an intern you are entitled to be nurtured and guided and protected. You are on the job to learn, so make all the mistakes now before you are in charge of preserving the record. There are no dumb questions so ask about anything that you want clarified (but try to keep it to court reporting questions!).
At the end of your internship, you should feel comfortable with the following:
• How to fill out a worksheet
• How to present yourself to the receptionist
• How to present yourself to the attorneys in the deposition
• How to report the deposition
• How to handle exhibits
• How to swear in the witness at the beginning and ask about signature preferences at the end
• Knowing what to do with the transcript once it is prepared.
If any of those processes weren't explained to you, then you need to have an exit interview with your mentor. Have your list of questions ready.
We as mentors and practicing court reporters (I love that expression. Am I still practicing after 35 years? When will I get it right?) want you as students to succeed and take up the baton that we are ready to pass. All we ask is that we can leave the profession better than when we came in, and that all depends on how good a job we do in mentoring you.
I have lots of examples of behaviors, some good, some bad, that I have observed in my interns. There are several in my book, Court Reporting Intern Book, so I won't repeat them here.
In the meantime, here are a couple new ones:
• A fellow reporter told me a couple weeks ago that he asked his intern to fill out a worksheet for the job and she said no. I kept waiting for the punch line but ... she said no. Hmmm. I wonder if she got hired?
• One of my interns reeked of smoke, had been out late the night before having a very good time, and was very unprofessional. I didn't even let him go into the deposition with me.
• One of my favorites is when, toward the end of our time together, I had the intern take over a readback and she did it flawlessly. It really made me feel good to see her handle herself so well. She was definitely ready!
I encourage all you students to keep learning, keep practicing and keep embracing new technology that can make your job easier and easier. Court Reporting is a wonderful profession and I am so proud of you for getting this far! Keep it up. We welcome you with open arms to one off the best professions ever!
Read more about your internship process and see more examples of tips for interns in her latest book, Court Reporting Intern Book, and visit her website for books and hypnosis CDs, http://www.CourtReportingInternBook.com.
You can read an excerpt from Kathie's book, "The Court Reporting Intern Book" here.