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When schoolgirl Jen Whelan called the Exam Results Helpline in floods of tears 18 years ago, she never thought she would be the person giving help and advice to upset pupils and parents.

Now a qualified careers adviser with Helpline provider Skills Development Scotland, Jen admitted she was “a crying mess” when she made that call.

“I was very, very upset when I got the results, which were bad, but not surprised as I hadn’t really been studying. I just couldn’t stop crying,” said Jen.

“My Mum handed me the Exam Results Helpline leaflet that was in my results envelope. I called and the adviser who answered was great. She calmed me down and made me realise that I had things I could do.”

The former St Andrew’s Academy pupil left school the following November and worked as a waitress and beauty therapist, before getting her Highers. She enrolled at the University of the West of Scotland where she studied sociology.

“Then I became a careers adviser because I love helping people. That’s one of the reasons I volunteer every year for the Exam Results Helpline. You share peoples’ ups and down and are able to reassure them that they have options.

“I can totally relate to how they are feeling because it is how I felt when I called, although I never imagined I would be on the Helpline one day,” she said.

“I can totally relate to how they are feeling because it is how I felt when I called."

Jen Whelan, Careers Adviser

Paisley-based mum of two Jen is now based in Woodfarm High School where she provides careers information, advice and guidance to the pupils.

“I think young people in all schools put themselves under a lot of pressure and there seems to be a lot of high expectations. When young people or their parents call the Helpline they can be very distressed. The first thing I do is try to calm them down and work at building a relationship straight away,” Jen explained.

She added: “Then I ask them ‘where do you want to be’ and reassure them that there are lots of ways to get there, before giving them the information they need. It is important to get them to a place where they begin to start feeling that things might actually be ok.”

“The best advice I could give to anyone who calls is that they are capable of anything – they just have to find the way that is right for them. I know because I did exactly that,” said Jen.


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