With COVID-19 more and more in the back of people’s minds – rather than front and center – the giant High Point Market looked like its old self again with hustle and bustle, modern new showings and people from all over the globe.

This year, the event – one of the world’s largest home furnishings trade shows, which is held each fall and spring – was a chance for High Point University (HPU) students to get some real-world experience in the industry as they worked alongside furniture and home furnishings company leaders at the show from Saturday, Oct. 22 to Wednesday, Oct. 26.

HPU leaders said the program gives students a chance to gain valuable experience, lets them network within the industry – and possibly form relationships that could end up as full-time employment for a student one day.

Helen De Weissenbruch, who’s from Belgium, is a senior at HPU studying interior design.

She said it was a fascinating experience that broadened her horizons.

“It’s amazing to see how High Point attracts so many people from around the world and to interact with them,” she said. “I love that I can help with the market, gain experience and meet designers who could help me find a job after graduating.”

Abigail Peterson said that, for her, the program led to summer internships and what she expects to be lifelong connections.

“I think it’s a really unique opportunity for people to be able to come here and work the different showrooms,” said Peterson, a senior interior design student at the HPU.  “Many of these showrooms have locations across the country and the world, which allows you to grow your resume.  Being an interior design major, I’ve been able to branch out and meet a lot of people within my industry through residential and commercial designs.”

It’s not just for design majors either.  Jake Pardi, a HPU senior majoring in sales and finance, said he wanted to work at the market this fall to get “sales and customer relations experience.”

Pardi, who’s from Saratoga, New York, added that having the world’s largest furniture market just a few miles away from campus is “extraordinary.”

“It’s an experience not many other college students can say they’ve had or even get to apply to. All our professors want us to have this industry experience, whether it’s in sales, interior design or any of the other majors HPU offers,”

Furniture company leaders who’ve taken advantage of the student help also had glowing reviews of the program – noting what a pleasant experience it was and how helpful it was for their companies as well as for the students.