FUSE Career Fair brings businesses to students


Participants line up for check-in at the FUSE Career Fair at the Spokane Convention Center. This year’s Career Fair will host representatives from 124 organizations, providing opportunities for students to meet potential employers.

By Sam Jackson, Copy Editor

There will be 124 organizations participating in the FUSE Career Fair. With that volume of employers, some might say that this opportunity is like bringing Indeed or Handshake to an event center.

The FUSE Career Fair is a “one-of-a-kind opportunity” that provides students and organizations “access to a network” for potential employment, according to the career fair’s website. Universities in the Spokane region including EWU, Gonzaga, Washington State and Whitworth have partnered for this event over the last 25 years. The FUSE Career Fair is at the Spokane Convention Center on Feb. 20 from 2 to 6 p.m. It usually sees about 800 students every year; about half of which are EWU students, according to Nate Bryant, the employer relations manager of the EWU Career Center.

Over the course of five years, Bryant’s role in the event has been to help employers participate in and throughout the fair. He says that the fair targets certain employers based upon students’ requests while offering a broad range of organizations to ensure students get exposure to all of the opportunities that exist around them.

“I would say you’ll find something for just about everybody,” Bryant said.

One company that Bryant is particularly excited about is Tedder Industries—a custom gun holster maker operating in Post Falls. This will be the company’s first time appearing at the fair.

Bryant says that the gun holster industry is unique, “but they are booming.” The company is practically in Spokane’s backyard, and it is the largest and fastest growing gun holster manufacturer in the U.S.

“(Tedder Industries) has tremendous opportunity,” Bryant said. “I went out there and visited their operations director; he’s an (EWU alumnus). Their HR director is an (EWU alumnus). One of their head recruiters is an (EWU alumnus). We just have a lot of people there and I feel like getting them to come to this event is really helping us understand that there’s a value for what we’re doing here and the companies are seeing it.”

Whether students are successful at the event or not depends on how prepared they are, according to Bryant. He encourages students to wear professional attire, bring resumes and research the organizations that most interest them before attending. The full list of organizations at the fair can be found at fusecareerfair.com/studentsalumni.

Heidi Sayler, who works in Talent Acquisition for Fast Enterprises–a software development and consulting company attending the fair, says that students who research the company before they come to talk at the event “instantly stand out” from other students.

“A huge quality we look for in students is passion. So if they find out what we do and show passion towards the work they could do at our company, then we are equally excited about them,” Slayer said in an email. “Even if students need to quick(ly) pull out their smartphones and look up a company, the company will appreciate the research.”

Sayler has many expectations for Fast Enterprises’ opportunities at the fair.

“We are hoping to find as many seniors as possible for our software consulting roles,” Sayler said. “We also have a few summer internships left to fill. Outside of that, we know we will continue to have large hiring needs in the future so we hope to network with younger students who could someday be a fit for our internships or full-time roles.”

Bryants says that based upon the research students gather about potential organizations, they should “really drive the conversation with that knowledge,” after introducing themselves professionally and talking to the employers.

“I would also encourage students to try to learn a little about the company in terms of culture,” Bryant said. “If you value your own personal time, a good work-life balance, maybe those are questions you should ask the employer.”

Bryants says that unemployment is low right now, making the employment industry “really a buyer’s market.”

“For students looking for a job I think what you’ll see right now in this economy is when you do find an opportunity what’s being offered to you is pretty unique,” Bryant said. “I think you might see a little bit of a higher salary, better benefits, maybe more work-life balance. So anything that organizations can do to really entice the talent that comes over to them as opposed to their competitors.”

Recently, the Career Center has formed a connection with an organization in Post Falls called Pipl—a people’s search internet company. Though it won’t be making an appearance at the FUSE Career Fair, the company is a strong example of how organizations are enticing employees with benefits.

“(Pipl) covers 100 percent of the cost for health benefits,” Bryant said. “They offer a tremendous amount of vacation. Every single employee (gets) $1,000 to donate to a charity of their choice each year. They just offer these really wild incentives … And that’s because unemployment is so low and there’s just not enough talent to go around.”

All students are invited to attend despite their year-standing, or if they aren’t ready for a job or internship yet. Over the years Bryant has noticed the majority of the recruiters at the fair are the same people. Simply introducing yourself during this time can help to establish connections for the future, says Bryant.

In celebration of the 25th year anniversary of the FUSE Career Fair, the fair offered an at-cost registration deal for 13 nonprofit organizations including CHAS Health, Catholic Charities and Volunteers of America. According to Bryant, this event should go beyond benefiting the universities and students, and serve the community as well.

“(We did this) so that they can come and talk about the work they do and sort of get connected with our students, because we know they operate with incredibly small budgets,” Bryant said. “For them, attending an event like this is probably something they never get to do without having a special deal … and I think that’s something we will do moving forward.”

Students can go to the EWU’s Career Center to get help with interviews and resumes for the fair. For more tips on how to be successful at the fair go to the Career Center’s website at ewu.edu/careercenter/career-fair-tips/.

The FUSE Career Fair is free for all students to attend. Parking for the event is free at the Davenport Grand Hotel’s parking garage in downtown Spokane. The parking pass from the garage can be exchanged, with a new, pre-paid pass at the registration area for students inside the fair.

For more information on the event go to fusecareerfair.com or EWU’s Career Center website at sites.ewu.edu/careercenter/. •