How To Be A Passion-Driven Social Worker: Meet Jen Halper

“I want to show them that there is always hope, no matter what. I want them to know that they are not alone, even if they may feel like it. “

Current City: Buffalo, NY

Hometown: Great Neck, NY

Hi Jen! Welcome to The Boss Diary! So glad you’re here. In the beginning, what motivated you to become a Social Worker? 

My motivation to become a Social Worker stemmed from a few places. As a child, I spent many years in therapy after my parents divorced when I was three. I remember feeling very different than the other kids around me and looking back now, I absolutely had undiagnosed anxiety. My high school guidance counselor was the person I felt comfortable speaking with when I was struggling with deep depression, anxiety, self-esteem issues, family issues, and self-destructive behaviors. I remember feeling supported by her and never judged, which was something I feared and experienced for many years of my life. When I work with adolescent girls now, I want them to feel the same way I did-supported, listened to, understood, respected, and cared for. 

I have been through a whirlwind in my 28 years on this planet and I am grateful for the experiences I’ve had-both positive AND negative. Since I’ve gone through so many difficult times, I have a different understanding of these complex issues. My deep and personal understanding however, is what drives my passion for social work. I want to provide support and love to those who are struggling. I want to show them that there is always hope, no matter what. I want them to know that they are not alone, even if they may feel like it. 

I truly know in my heart, I was meant to be a social worker and every experience I’ve had is something that needed to occur in order for me to help others. I love what I do!

What does a typical day consist of? 

I start my day by making my bed and writing in my gratitude journal. I read that a lot of people who are successful (not necessarily financially but more so emotionally) make their beds every morning. I totally jumped on that bandwagon! I love to do a morning workout as well, to kickstart my day. If I am seeing clients at my practice, I’ll head over to my office, see my clients, complete necessary notes, etc., and then I’ll try and plan what to cook for dinner. I LOVE to cook now! 

I see that you’re starting a new job! Congrats! Tell me more about your new position.

Yes I am, thank you! I am the new Clinical Care Coordinator at Evergreen Health Services, and I actually couldn’t be more excited about it. 

Also, its so exciting that you are moving to Buffalo! What is one thing that you absolutely love about your soon-to-be new home? 

When I first visited my childhood best friend in Buffalo, about 5 years ago, I knew I needed to live there one day. It may seem silly, but one specific experience that really impacted me was when I took my first class at Power Yoga Buffalo. Going into a yoga class on Long Island, where I am from, gave me awful anxiety. The thought of people staring at my tattoos (which has been an issue at times) and judging me for not being good enough was so uncomfortable, I didn’t want to go. The moment the class began at PYB, I felt a sense of calmness. I didn’t feel judged, for ANYTHING! I turned to my best friend afterwards and she knew exactly what I meant when I told her “that was amazing”. 

Tell me one thing that most people may not know about you

This one is tough because I’m a very open person! Meeting me now, people may be surprised that I struggled with awful anxiety for many years. Also, I did gymnastics for years and now my family thinks I’m too old to have a trampoline. You’re never too old for a trampoline!

Ok, so I am absolutely obsessed that you have started a new YouTube Channel! What is SocialMerk all about? 

I’m obsessed with it, too! SocialMerk is a passion project that my childhood best friend, Julia Jornsay-Silverberg and I have started, which combines our two knowledge bases-social work and social media, to empower individuals to live an authentically happy and healthy life! Julia and I are both strong believers in having open conversations about mental health, self-care, our thought processes and how they affect us, having a gratitude practice, and how to be present and enjoy life. When Julia and I are together, it’s constant laughter, which I believe is one of the most important aspects of happiness. We have to laugh!  

Where would you like to be one year from now?

I’d like to/plan to open a private practice in Buffalo! I love doing individual, family, and group therapy, and that is something I will make happen! Also, I’m single and it would be awesome to meet a guy who I connect with and can share my life with! 

What is one piece of advice you would give to women out there who are looking to pursue their careers while transitioning into a new city?

Listen to your gut. I call mine my “belly barometer”. If your gut is telling you this is the right move, or the right job, or the right apartment, etc., go for it. I’m a planner and like to have most of my ducks in a row before I make a move, but we can’t always have everything figured out right away. Be kind to yourself. Positive affirmations have been HUGE for me for the past year and I believe they have helped me build up the courage to make this incredible move! That was actually more than one piece of advice, oops! 

Fave 7:

  • Summer activity: I don’t know if it is considered an activity, but I love to bring my coffee and a book outside on summer mornings, when it is not too hot out yet. 
  • Restaurant in your neighborhood: Fanatico-Jericho, NY
  • Podcast: I don’t have one but I want one! 
  • Lipstick: I love nude colored lip gloss. It cannot be sticky, though. Soap & Glory’s Sexy Mother Pucker lip gloss is awesome! 
  • Color: Sage green
  • Bravo t.v. housewife (wait…do you watch the housewives?): This is a tough answer for me because I watch all of the housewives (and Bravo TV in general). I think 
  • Disney movie:

Random 7

  • If you won $20 million dollars in the lottery, what would you do with that money? Well, I’d have to play the lottery in order to win the lottery! Okay, I would use that money and pay my mom’s bills (she was a single parent and worked her a** off to provide for my sister and I), ask my step-dad where to invest some of it (he’s really good with money), put some away in the bank, donate some to charity, and open my own wellness center!  
  • How would you describe your best friend in 3 words? Ambitious, empathic, and beautiful (inside and out).
  • What is the last good book that you’ve read? The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. It was actually life changing. 
  • What’s your favorite song on your current dance playlist? I’m literally obsessed with “You Can Cry Tomorrow” by Betty Who. 
  • Number one travel destination in the world? Italy
  • Who is your male celebrity crush? I don’t really have one! 
  • 3 things on your bucket list? See the Northern Lights, hang out with a baby elephant, and travel around Europe. Also, this one isn’t as realistic, but I really want to go to Mars!  


Instagram socialmerk

YouTube: Socialmerk

LinkedIn: Jennifer Halper