10 Gifts to Give to New College Graduates

NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- The Spring 2012 graduation season is upon us and you might be wondering what to get a person who is beginning their lives in the “real world.”

Mainstreet has come up with 10 unique ideas for the graduate in your life:

1. Cash or prepaid card: If the college graduate in your life is like many, they are entering the working world already saddled with a lot of student loan debt. Cash may not be unique, but it is always welcomed, says Andrea Woroch, a money saving expert.  If you want to put a unique spin on it that makes the graduate smile and think of you every time they purchase something, a personalized Visa card is the way to go. Price is amount of the gift +$5.95.

2. Resume service: This might not be as flashy as a car, but the graduate will appreciate having a professional guide them through drawing up the resume as they seek their first job. “Most colleges have career centers with advisors available to assist students with their career search and resume development, but that free service is gone upon graduation,”Woroch says.

3. Job interview clothing: The women graduates in your life might appreciate this more than the men, but the guys will have to look smashing too, for their first job interviews. Depending on your relationship – if it is your son or daughter – you might offer to purchase a couple of suits or clothes that can be interchangeable for multiple interviews. Woroch says “Schedule a suit fitting or organize a shopping spree and help the budding professional select the proper attire.”

4. Financial planning session: How many of us wish we had started paying off debt and saving for retirement right out of college? How many of us knew to even think that way? “One of the best gifts you can offer a recent grad is the opportunity to begin her new life on the right financial foot,” Woroch says. “By purchasing one or more professional financial planning sessions, you're offering the opportunity to learn the most effective approach for establishing a budget, paying off debt and saving for retirement.”

5. Luggage: You’re really not telling your college graduates you want them gone, but many will embark on travels post college and take jobs that require them to go on business trips. You can send them off in style with luggage that says “style,” such as the pieces from BOYT. Ranges in price from $59.99 - $299.

6. Clothes for tech gadgets: The days of the paper day time may be long gone, but professionals these days carry their iPads into meetings and just about anywhere. Personalized portfolios for iPads make a great statement for $69. For the college grad who likes to head out to the coffee shop with their laptop, they can also dress their computer casually. The V-neck sleeve fits Mac Books or iPads. $39.99- $59.99.

7. For survival: This isn’t marketed for the college graduate, but there’s still some great resources in The Graduate’s Survival Guide, such as a section on budgeting and doing a resume. The book is set up in a question and answer style and gives statistics and answers to questions that all college students should ask but don’t know where to go for the answer. It also gives other resources, such as a sample budget and resume. The DVD is a discussion between Rachel Cruze, author Jon Acuff and Christy Brown about the daily life and expectations of a college student. Book and DVD $19.95

8. Words of wisdom: Back in the day, we might have had grandma and grandpa and Uncle Joe write something in a little memory book if we wanted our friends and family to impart wisdom to the graduate. Today, it’s found where else, but online. Gems of Insight is the first social network designed to impart gems of wisdom, quotes and advice to graduates. The creators say the site is free and free of ads. A very economical gift, indeed. 

9.  Watch for the classics: Watches are still a classic gift and many men still use them to finish off their professional look. We like this Stauer Compendium Hybrid Watch, as it blends the classic look with a sleek, modern digital display. $49

10. Moving truck: Woroch says that if a graduate is moving across the country or down the block, giving a moving truck rental is a great way to help get them settled off campus. If you want to go all out, offer some labor to go with the truck, or hire a moving company. How much stuff can a graduate have? Truck rental prices range widely. 

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