What do you wish you had when you graduated?
August 29, 2008 5:13 AM   Subscribe

What (item) do you wish you had when you graduated from college?

My brother is graduating from college after this semester and I want to get him a present he will end up really appreciating. So, what (item or items) do you wish someone had given you when you graduated from college, or otherwise entered the real world for the first time?

I don't want want to limit ideas in any way, but if it helps to inspire: he's graduating with a degree in engineering, but he loves writing fiction.
posted by AceRock to Shopping (20 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Personally: a digital camera. But this was 2003 and they were stupidly expensive back then.

I didn't have any work clothes nor any idea how to dress for a Proper Job then. Do they have a personal shopping service where you are? So I would say get him that and maybe a nice pen.
posted by mippy at 5:22 AM on August 29, 2008

Along the lines of mippy, I received DSLR for graduation, and I love the thing. It takes awesome pictures, and while not too useful for pics of a night out on the town, it can't be beat on vacations and such, even though I'm by no means a professional photographer...a beginner DSLR like the one I have might be good, which is a Pentax *istDL (holy crap, it was only $450 when I got mine!)
posted by Grither at 5:25 AM on August 29, 2008

My parents gave me a really nice set of Klipsch speakers. While not earth moving; they are a gift similar to the DSLR. I will always need them; always enjoy them; and it beats the crap out of what I would be using otherwise.

Nothing beats good old cash. Especially when student loans become due.

Most college age people don't have a nice bed (and I wish I did!).
posted by SirStan at 5:45 AM on August 29, 2008

I wish I had had the presence of mind to manage my money better. A starter ING mutual fund or IRA would be a great gift that keeps on giving.
posted by headnsouth at 5:50 AM on August 29, 2008 [5 favorites]

You don't specify a price range, but I know someone who writes, and loves his Asus Eee sub-laptop. It's basically a mini laptop that's easy to carry around and he can write on whim, might even be useful for the engineering work. I think new it's about $400.

When I graduated, what I needed most was food, shelter (rented room), transportation (bike), and a job (flipping burgers). That got me by until I got my foot in the door at a real company with decent pay.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 5:53 AM on August 29, 2008

Renter's and/or car insurance for a year. Or help him make payments on his student loans.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 6:31 AM on August 29, 2008

Not sure how much you are looking to spend, but nice vacations are always memorable and can stick with you for a lifetime. For under 2000 + plane ticket you could send him to Europe for 2 weeks on one of those Contiki trips. I loved my trip.
posted by Slenny at 6:57 AM on August 29, 2008

if he doesn't already have one, a nice portfolio that he can bring to job interviews. like, the physical binder thing, in which he has a pad of paper, his resume, etc. a folded up resume out of his back pocket isn't a great ice breaker!

also, possibly, a nice commuting bag. i mean, if you live in the midwest you can just toss stuff in the back seat, but if he rides public transit all the time, a nice bag to keep his lunch/keys/ipod/etc in is awesome.

i really want to suggest a nice piece of furniture, but if he's anything like most post-grads, he'll spend his first few years moving almost yearly into and out of apartments that won't be nice enough for the nice furniture. so maybe save that for a grad school present.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 7:12 AM on August 29, 2008

Engineer? Leatherman Wave. Unless he's the doesn't actually do stuff kind of engineer.
posted by captaincrouton at 7:29 AM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

A professionally done suit, two shirts, two ties, two pairs of shoes.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:55 AM on August 29, 2008

I second a nice suit, and you don't even have to wait until graduation- give it to him now, while he's interviewing for jobs.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:59 AM on August 29, 2008 [2 favorites]

A nice suit.

Seriously, if your bother doesn't have a nice suit, something he can interview in, or wear to work, then get him that. You can buy him a gift certificate for a local men's store, or when in doubt Men's Warehouse.
posted by wfrgms at 8:05 AM on August 29, 2008

My favorite gifts after graduate were oddly things I needed but really hated buying or didn't know what I'd need (in my case basic toolset -- yay Dad!).

You can always throw in a fun item alongside it (snazzy bottle opener alongside kitchen skillet). You may get an odd look but you'll hear later about how useful it is. Seconding the ING savings too.
posted by ejaned8 at 8:41 AM on August 29, 2008

What kind of engineer?
posted by phrontist at 8:59 AM on August 29, 2008

Nthing the suit idea. My mom set up an appointment with the Nordstoms personal shopper who found me 2 basic business outfits and had them tailored to fit me.

It was great. I didn't have to argue taste in clothing with my mother. The personal shopper knew what I needed and found me the bare basics that were very versatile. She took care of getting them tailored, which wouldn't have occurred to me back then- I probably would have brought them home and safety pinned the cuffs or something. And it didn't cost any extra to use her.

(Thanks, Mom!)
posted by small_ruminant at 9:49 AM on August 29, 2008

A nice bike.
posted by shamble at 10:32 AM on August 29, 2008

The money to buy a good pair of shoes. Until I was an adult, I thought dress shoes had to be uncomfortable.
posted by zippy at 10:59 AM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

My brother gave me a very nice leather bag that was both work-friendly and hip, sort of a cross between a formal briefcase and messenger bag. More than a decade later, I still have it, use it, and love it.
posted by donpedro at 11:52 AM on August 29, 2008

I notice you didn´t do the ¨anon because he reads metafilter¨ thing.

Time to add an extra $5 to the budget.

Nthing the suit suggestion, with the personal shopper. I don´t it works if you just go out and buy a suit. Even if he can return it if it doesn´t fit properly, he may not know what a proper fit looks like.
posted by yohko at 11:53 AM on August 29, 2008

How about a decent mechanical watch? A watch will last a long time, and makes a good impression (Then again, more practical engineer types might prefer the practicality of a quartz watch).

Not sure how useful a suit would be for an engineer, although some nice shirts and ties are always useful. Maybe a gift certificate to Banana Republic? They make really nice shirts for the money.

Maybe a nice but portable laptop like a Macbook.
posted by kenliu at 7:40 PM on August 29, 2008

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