MONEY Gift Guide

3 Gift Ideas to Help New College Grads Up Their Game

Cash is just so boring.

As the college class of 2016 prepares to graduate, many friends and loved ones are once again scrambling for a gift that can both mark the occasion and help the new grad enter adulthood. Money is an obvious option, but there are plenty of other, more creative options. Among them:

Upgrade their appearance: Replacing graduates’ old knapsacks with more professional ones — or messenger bags or totes — can help them feel more professional and put-together at work. Those focusing on more conservative industries like business, accounting or finance may need a wardrobe upgrade — even if it’s just a nicer hoodie! And many new graduates — especially those in full job-search mode — may need to upgrade a smartphone, or swap out an old, beat-up phone case with one that has a built-in battery.

Help them wise up: When I graduated from college, my godparents paid for a subscription to the Wall Street Journal — which I maintain to this day. Maybe your graduates would like an online subscription to a relevant newspaper, or to apps or online publications that can help them navigate their new professional life. If you want to give a small token, consider a classic business book. For tech-oriented grads, try Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs or The Soul of a New Machine — a classic tech creation story. For wannabe traders, Reminiscences of a Stock Operator by Edwin Lefevre, which was first published in 1923, has more to teach about markets and people than years of experience. Know a budding entrepreneur? Try Michael Gerber’s The E Myth: Why Most Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It.

Get them hired: If your graduate has not yet landed a job, offer to give them a resume service, like ResumeMyCareer, or an upgrade for a resume app (like Pocket Resume) that helps users build, design and generate a professional-looking resume — then lets them send it out directly from their phones. Another helpful gift is to pay for a premium or advanced subscription to a job search site.

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