Part of their professional development is joining one of our professional organizations, International Interior Design Association (IIDA) or American Society for Interior Designers (ASID). Each group elects officers, recruits members and hosts monthly meetings with professionals who speak on a variety of topics. The two student chapters at UA decided to join forces last year under one umbrella organization: the Interior Design Student Association (IDSA). It was through IDSA that students planned and hosted a student product fair. These events are common when state chapters host conferences, so the students thought, “why not do it here on campus so all of our students could participate?”
After a two year hiatus due to COVID, the students decided to bring back this event. This year marked the fourth year that students have collaborated on the campus product fair. The students were responsible for the entire event and worked in conjunction with liaisons from the state chapters. They secured the venue, contacted vendors or firms, provided food, sought donations for a raffle, found a photographer to take professional head shots, and worked the event. They offered a free CEU credit with a box lunch for professionals attending the event. As a professional member of either organization or as a registered interior designer with the state, you must accrue 10 CEU hours per year, so this was a nice perk or incentive for professionals from UA facilities, furnishings and design or local architectural firms to participate.
Each year the event has grown and this year several architectural firms and dealers had tables at the event. Students had an opportunity to learn about products straight from the manufacturers’ representative as well as an opportunity to network which can lead to internships or jobs upon graduation. In fact, several CHES graduates were among the professionals representing a product or company. This year every rep remarked that it was one of the best student events they had ever participated in and were looking forward to returning next year. They mentioned how impressed they were with our students' professionalism and how much they enjoyed interacting with them.
Casey Faulkner, faculty advisor for IDSA, said “I am so proud of these seniors and how they have worked together all year to provide exceptional opportunities for their fellow students. They have had special speakers, workshops on portfolio development and personal branding, hosted a t-shirt contest, had round table discussions with professionals and had a speaker who walked the group through making personal water filters to be shipped out to disaster areas. They created a mentoring group to help underclassmen and finished the year out with this product fair. It has been a remarkable group of students and I look forward to seeing how they impact the world as professionals.”