Maker Feature: Career Coach and Podcaster, Shelley Maley

Shelley Maley, Dreamcatcher Career Coaching

Shelley Maley, professional career coach, and podcaster

At Made in the Lehigh Valley, we spend a lot of time thinking about maker businesses. It is an incredibly multifaceted, multicultural and complicated subset of industries!

We are often interested to find out how people got into their maker businesses to begin with. Most of the smaller maker brands have started as sole proprieterships—self-employed people looking to either make side income or carry themselves and their families on their own terms and schedules.

Other times, maker businesses start as part of a transition. “I used to be a nurse, but __________, and I just didn’t feel like my career was going in the right direction. So I realized I loved making _________, and decided to make that my business instead.”  Or “I started out as an elementary teacher, but then I had kids, and I needed a way to make income from home, so I started making ________ and selling them.”

As part of this week’s blog, we thought it would be useful to speak to an expert on these transitions. Shelley Maley, PHR, GCDF, is the founder of a Lehigh Valley company called Dreamcatcher Career Coaching, which specializes in 1) helping people (young and old) identify fulfilling career paths, and 2) coaches them to achieve their goals.

Shelley is a prime example of successful transition from one career to the next. In fact, Shelley had experience with five careers in three different industries (including Human Resources) before she established her coaching practice. She navigated her career changes with her own innate talent  and consequently became eager to help others with their own transitions.

Having children, needing a promotion, or experiencing health problems, aging parents, job burnout, hostile work environments– there are so many reasons why people need to open the doors to the next chapter of their career. Shelley helps her clients navigate all of these challenges and improve themselves in the process.

Shelley spoke to me at length about the different types of people she serves. About 50% of her clients are mid-career, and the other half are early career professionals who have just graduated from high school or college. Many are struggling with burnout, confidence, and/or mindset. Almost every client needs help with refining their interview skills, updating resumes, conducting effective job searches, and even finetuning soft skills like dining etiquette, communication, and professionalism.

Shelley explained that many of her clients are confused and feel "stuck in the muck", oftentimes panicking about what to do next. For example, one of her clients approached her for help on her elevator pitch. They worked together on that and more—focusing on confidence-building and mindset. Through this consultation, her client was able to achieve a $20,000 increase in pay.

Dreamcatcher Career Coaching offers workshops for recent college graduates, etiquette workshops for universities, confidence workshops for women, and so much more.

In another exciting expansion of Shelley’s business path, she has also become a maker. She started her own podcast in February, called the Young Professionals Career Catalyst. To get started, she hired another Lehigh Valley podcaster for advice, purchased the proper software, and got to work. She drew on the support of her sisterhood, the Lehigh Valley Polka Dots, who meet several times a month to hang out, network, support and encourage one another. Shelley states unequivocally, the LV Polka Dots have changed her life and she is forever grateful for the friendships she has made there.

Her educational podcast is interview-format and features exciting guests, whose stories and advice highlight three very important realities: people evolve, careers change, and that’s OKAY.

I actually find it surprising how few “career readiness” programs even mention maker businesses. As a former teacher myself, I sat through many programs teaching kids about “their futures” that either pigeonholed them into certain jobs or sent them into industry to be minimum-wage employees.

As Shelley’s story indicates, career evolution and professional transitions are extremely normal. Makers who have their own businesses are extremely creative and entrepreneurial. They are resilient and hard-working. They are problem-solvers and strategists. Maker businesses can be the avenue to something better, or the bridge that helps soften the blow of a career in flux.

Thank you so much, Shelley, for your insights and conversation. We are new podcast subscribers!