HIGH POINT — On October 18, during the High Point Furniture Market, 145 students gathered for a mentoring day planned and hosted by professional nonprofit WithIt. This marks the largest Student Mentoring Day held by the organization.
Of the 145 students, 20 were high school students from the interior design elective at Southwest Guilford High School. This was the first time high school students were invited to participate in the WithIt Student Mentoring Day through a partnership with the Guilford Education Alliance.
Students were greeted by event chair, Mona Nigam, WithIt’s VP of Emerging Leaders and a professional with Emlink Consulting. After that, they heard from keynote speaker Kimberly Joi McDonald, the founder and CEO of Designing JOI, LLC.
“Not only was I honored and excited to be invited to be the keynote speaker of WithIt’s 2023 Student Mentoring Day, but I was overjoyed to spend special motivational moments with these talented 145 university students representing the North Carolina area,” McDonald said. “Their eager eyes, energetic expressions and excited feedback reflected their joy, confidence and belief in their bright future.”
Following the talk, students had the opportunity to participate in roundtable discussions on various topics related to the home and furnishings industry, including “Your Career in Showroom Design” and “The Career Paths in Home Furnishings Retail.” The 20 high-school students participated in career-focused discussions titled “Careers In Interior Design Terminology College” and “Education Options for Design Careers.”
From there, students moved on to showroom tours, allowing them to further interact with High Point Furniture Market. More than 30 volunteers assisted in facilitating the programming.
“Student Mentoring Day is an important event for WithIt, but also for the home furnishings industry as a whole,” says Emily Boyst, from Hooker Furnishings and WithIt’s 2023 President. “This event connects the future workforce to our industry in a meaningful way. We educate students about our industry and the exponential career opportunities they can find here. It is no surprise to me that we had a record-breaking number of student attendees this year.”
For the first time, all university students who attended Student Mentoring Day received a WithIt student membership from the Diversity Advocacy Alliance through the High Point Market Authority. This membership will give students access to upcoming events, connect them with professionals and provide them with educational opportunities.
Schools represented at WithIt’s Student Mentoring Day included Appalachian State University, Forsyth Tech, Meredith College, North Carolina State University, Randolph Community College, Salem College, UNC Greensboro, Winston Salem State University and Southwest Guilford High School.
Sponsors for the event included La-Z-Boy, High Point Market Authority and Andmore.
WithIt is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering women at all stages of their career to connect with others and advance in the home and furnishings industry. To learn more, visit WithIt.org.