"Over the summer, I finally came to the conclusion that what I wanted to do was to pursue my Master’s in Social Work and eventually become licensed in clinical social work. As I began looking at programs, I came across the HearMe internship. I was really excited to find HearMe because it allowed me to get amazing training in listening skills and start utilizing them and be part of a really supportive community.
I really did not know what to expect because this was my first ever internship and it was remote. However, through these 10-weeks, I genuinely believe that I learned so much, especially from the users I conversed with every day. One of the requirements of the internship was to have a couple of chats with users on the HearMe app. As a trained listener, our task was to listen to users talk about whatever it was they wished to talk about, from their struggles to their accomplishments, and to be there for the users with empathetic feedback.
As I started to take on conversations, I quickly began to realize how important this task of being a listener was and how important it was for me to be doing this internship at this very moment. With the pandemic affecting all countries of the world, so many people were suffering more than they had before. Many users I talked to were coming on this app because it was truly their only option. People felt lonely, detached from friends and family due to the pandemic and they were coming on this app to be able to find someone to talk to.
Being patient laid at the foundation of being a listener. Some users were very quick to tell me what was going on and what they were struggling with, while for others, it took several minutes to ease into the conversation. It really meant a lot to me when users gave me feedback at the end of the conversations saying they felt so much better or that they felt they could sleep better because of the conversation. Hearme has a dedicated chat feature which allows for longer relationships to be formed. Some users still message me weeks after our first conversation, updating me on their life and how things are getting better.
For me, one of the most significant parts of this internship was being able to learn about the different challenges and experiences individuals face and the different emotions people could feel towards these challenges and experiences. In the listener training, one of the biggest points made was that listeners should not give advice to users. Instead, we should focus on creating a safe space for users to talk in and get everything out. At first, I agreed that advice should not be given because we, as listeners, cannot hold responsibility for the actions of the users. But in addition, as I took on more and more conversations, I realized that advice could not be given because we, as strangers to the user, will never completely know the situation they are in as well as they do. While it is easy to assume the entirety of a situation from what a user has told us, there might be so much more to the situation that we are unaware of. And the feelings we may feel towards their situation may be completely different from how they truly feel.
I know this experience will help me in pursuing my future career goal. Everything I learned from this internship can be used, not only in my future career but also in life in general. I would like to thank Lorraine, Sarra, and Emma for creating an environment where it was easy to ask questions and reach out to them. And thank you Adam for creating such an amazing app where people from all around the world can find someone to talk to within the matter of seconds, even when it might be really difficult for them to find someone to talk to in their very own environment."
- Anju Okamura