As I think back over my educational journey and my professional career I now realize there was one opportunity I missed the mark on…graduation gifts! As new graduates, our friends and families are so excited to celebrate us and we are just as excited to be done with school. I remember being so thankful for whatever graduation gifts I received recognizing my accomplishments.
However, in hindsight I would trade in all the cute little inscribed trinkets featuring “Class of” or “Congrats Graduate”, the balloons, stuffed animals, and flowers for more useful gifts. As we advance into adulthood, we often have no memory of those gifts, besides perhaps cash, and even that may have been wasted on personal useless trinkets or services like a trip to the salon or dining with friends.
If I had to do it again now as a seasoned professional, my graduation announcement may have listed some really creative ideas for helping me advance my career. Items I needed to purchase that I later had to fork over some large bucks for. If you are looking to give graduate a gift anytime soon, check out my top graduation gifts I think any graduate would thank you tremendously for later!
13 Smart Graduation Gifts for Every Young Professional
1. LinkedIn Premium Subscription
LinkedIn is perhaps one of the most useful recruiting and networking social media tools on the market. Over the last few years they have advanced their product to offer both free and scaled price options for professionals. For a new graduate looking to network or directly reach out to recruiters having a premium membership could advance them far beyond their peers in their job search. (Cost range $29.99- 79.99 a month)
2. Resume Service
There is nothing worse than a horrible resume. As a new graduate or even an advanced graduate who is looking to brand their skills hiring a resume expert may be just the boost you need to get you through the ATS job system and straight to the hiring manager. (Cost $ 99.99 – 250.00)
3. Professional Organization Dues
Alumni and Professional organizations are critical to networking and professional development. The best thing a new graduate can do for their career is getting connected in their local professional organizations. Most new graduates often forget how costly these can add up to and spend the first five years not engaged because they cannot afford dues. However, if you reach out to many of these organizations they have reduced rates for current college students and new graduates looking to transition. (Cost $75.00- 400.00 annually)
4. Testing Fees for Certification or Prep Courses
If your new graduate is looking to earn a professional designation, has to earn continuing education credit, or needs a prep course to prepare for an advance degree, consider covering those charges for them. These type of gift could be most critical to helping them jump-start their career. (Cost $450.00 – 1200.00)
5. New Suit
There’s nothing worse than getting a call for your dream job realizing that your closet is only filled with college gear and screen tees. Most new graduates are in desperate need of either a new suit or professional apparel to help them look the part. (Cost $150.00 – 300.00)
6. Professional Books
There are ton of great books for new graduates that are cheap an inexpensive gift help a new graduate get prepared for the real world. Hop on over to your local bookstore or simply purchased a Barnes and Noble, Amazon Kindle, Oyster and Scribd. (Cost $9.99 monthly subscription/ $10.00-50.00).
7. Organizer/ Planner
Keeping your ideas, goals, and calendar organized is critical for a new graduate to be successful. Offering a planner that will help them stay organized will make you look like a superstar. Two of my favorites are The Passion Planner and Emily Ley Simplified Planner. (Cost $25.00-60.00)
8. Gas Cards
With the rising cost of gas, your new graduate will certainly find this gift handy while driving to and from job interviews or their newly obtained job. (Cost $50.00)
Your new graduate will need to respond to recruiters and apply for jobs. If they are in need of an upgrade… a laptop or tablet would surely excite them and be useful for years to come. (Cost $200.00- $1300.00)
10. Subscription to Business Magazines
Keep your new graduate well informed with business news and tips. Sign them up for Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Black Enterprise, Fortune, INC, and Bloomberg Businessweek where you can purchase 12-50 issues per year (Cost 25.00- 50.00 annually).
11. Career Coach or Mentor Leadership Programs
Research career coaches and mentor leadership programs in your graduate’s local area by partnering with local chambers and professional groups. Be careful to check your selected career coach’s credentials and ensure that they align to what your graduate needs. (cost $150.00 to 450.00)
12. Professional Portfolio & Business Card Holder
Your new graduate will need some awesome accessories to carry that newly updated resume and business cards for networking. Help them choose a long lasting accessory that they can keep for years to come. My top favorites are Leatherology and Kate Spade ($36.00 – 95.00)
13. Expenses for industry professional conference
There are so many industry specific conferences. Find out where your new graduates interest are and commit to pay for the registration to one conference in their first year after graduation or expenses. ( Cost $495.00 to $1500.00)
Instead of a party or a trip, make your graduation gifts an investment in your new graduate’s career and I promise years from now they will still be thanking you!
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