2019 MBA Graduate Gift Guide

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Graduation is always a special time, regardless of the degree. It is a time to reflect on the past and look towards the future. And after years of team projects, case studies and reports, presentations, and final exams, students deserve to celebrate.

MBA graduates, in particular, have a lot to celebrate. They’ve spent the last few years building strong relationships, learning new concepts, and preparing for a big new role in the business world. So what does one give someone who is about to step into this new role as a business leader?

MBA gifts convey pride in a loved one’s accomplishments and can help them achieve success and adjust to the next chapter in their lives. With that in mind, there are several kinds of gifts MBA grads appreciate most: Gifts that commemorate the last few years, gifts that inspire the road ahead, and gifts that help propel them as they enter—or reenter—the business world.

Explore gift options below.

Small Gifts

A Personalized Etsy Gift
For those looking for creative or personalized gifts, Etsy offers an entire section dedicated to unique MBA graduate gifts. Etsy’s selection is vast, comprising an array of punny T-shirts and coffee mugs, personalized key chains, and college-specific diploma frames. Gift-givers can customize many of these gifts with the graduate’s name and most are affordable.

Sky’s the Limit Airplane Paperweight
This inspirational paperweight conveys the same feeling as a copy of Dr. Seuss’s Oh, The Places You’ll Go! without the cliché. Remind your MBA grad to reach for the stars with this handmade paperweight. Bonus point: it looks a lot more professional on an office desk than a children’s book.

A Moo Gift Card
Whether your MBA grad snagged the perfect job or is still on the hunt, he or she will need business cards. Moo offers modern custom-designed cards for all types of professionals. From traditional to luxe to bright and fun, there’s a card for every type of grad.

Sentimental Gifts

Shattered Glass Ceiling Necklace
Still today, women only make up one-third of MBA students. Likewise, racial minorities and the LGBT+ community have been historically underrepresented in MBA programs. Last year, just six African-American students were enrolled in the University of California, Berkeley’s MBA program. The business world is not known for its diversity, so any woman or person of minority graduating with an MBA degree has helped to shatter the glass ceiling. This symbolic necklace pays tribute to the accomplishments of these people making a difference in the world.

A Personalized Signed Book
A book can also commemorate a memorable experience. If a graduate loved a certain class, consider buying the professor’s book and asking him or her to sign it with a personal note. This heartfelt gift will surely touch your graduate.

Stock in Their Favorite Company
A popular gift to show you are investing in the graduate’s future is the savings bond or stock. Gift shares of stock in your MBA grad’s favorite company to inspire them to work toward a future there (if they haven’t already scored that perfect job). Take this classic gift a step further by combining it with one of the company’s products, like Amazon stock and an Amazon gift card or Apple stock and AirPods.

Books for MBAs

Books make terrific (and affordable) gifts. Some new graduates might feel unprepared for the future ahead while others might be excited—there are books for every type of graduate as all will appreciate the wise words from some of the business world’s biggest names.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
An absolute classic and named the most influential business book of the 20th century, 7 Habits has taught CEOs, presidents, executives, and employees at all levels and across all industries powerful lessons for personal change.

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup
This hotly anticipated investigative non-fiction novel made its rounds on the best-sellers lists earlier this year when it was first released. The book chronicles the story of Theranos, the Silicon Valley darling that committed the biggest corporate fraud since Enron. Recommended by Barak Obama and Bill Gates, Bad Blood is a must-buy for any MBA graduate with tech or investment ambitions.

The Innovator’s Dilemma
Written by Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, The Innovator’s Dilemma argues that leading companies can become shells of their former selves if they are unwilling to disrupt their operations. This was one of the first widely-read treatises on disruption over the last 20 years and is especially poignant in modern-day business.

The Myth of the Nice Girl
In this instant classic, the author deconstructs the fine line women must balance in the business world—not too nice or you’re weak, not too tough or you’re bossy. In this book, business leaders will learn how to break down stereotypes in the workplace and build a more inclusive space that values male and female perspectives.

Principles
This Ray Dalio classic is both inspirational and practical. In his book, Dalio, one of the world’s most successful investors and entrepreneurs, shares his story, wisdom, and lessons learned in business. Readers will likely find a few concepts they are already familiar with, such as radical truth and transparency, as Principles has laid the foundation for MBA curricula.

Educated
Another 2018 hit, this memoir follows the life of a young girl born into a Mormon family isolated from the modern world who didn’t set foot into a classroom until her teens. Her quest for knowledge led her around the world and to study at Harvard University and Cambridge University and is a reminder to not take education for granted.

AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order
It’s no secret that AI is upending the business world as we know it. This book dives deep into the history, current state, and future of AI from a global business perspective by highlighting how the technology being developed in China and the U.S. will completely change the world for better or for worse.

Subscriptions & Memberships

Alumni Association Membership
One of the best and most affordable MBA gifts is a membership to their business school’s alumni association. The University of Michigan, for example, only charges new grads $25 a year. It is a worthwhile investment since alumni groups can help new grads find jobs and create social connections upon moving to a new city.

LinkedIn Premium
Even for an MBA with a job waiting upon graduation, consider giving a few months of a LinkedIn Premium subscription. This LinkedIn membership can help them build connections and relationships with fellow alumni and provides detailed reporting about profile visitors, companies, and jobs that the free version does not offer. At only $30 a month, it’s a bargain, and the first month is free.

Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime is perhaps the most broad-strokes membership out there. Not only do Prime subscribers get access to free two-day shipping, but those in more than 5,000 U.S. cities have access to free same-day delivery. Furthermore, an Amazon Prime subscription also includes access to its video and music streaming services, audiobook channels, and much more.

Office & Travel Necessities

Madewell Leader Card Case
Help your MBA grad keep those new business cards crisp in this versatile business card case. With loads of color options, you can pick one that suits their personality best. You can also personalize this minimalistic leather card holder with their initials.

Everlane Nylon Commuter Backpack
Everlane is a sustainable clothing brand that aims to create stylish apparel with transparent pricing. Not only with supply chain enthusiasts love the brand, but all will appreciate the company’s mission to partner only with ethical factories around the world. This unisex backpack is sleek, practical, and provides commuters with all of the essentials: padded laptop sleeve, side, and front zip pockets, and taped zippers for extra weather protection.

The High-Performance Planner
Anyone graduating from an MBA program is highly motivated. Help them stay on the right track with this performance enhancing planner-meets-journal. Not only does it help keep track of your activities and meetings but it also promotes introspection and self-assessment to make sure you stay on track to reach your goals.

The Away Carry-On
Away took travel enthusiasts by storm when it first launched. The company sells top-of-the-line luggage for modern-day travelers. Whether your graduate will be traveling for work or play, they will love the Away carry-on suitcase, which comes equipped with a durable shell, an ejectable battery that charges your phone, TSA-approved combination lock, and even a hidden laundry bag. Throw in a Signature Garment Bag for the consultant in your life.

Tech & Gadgets

Fitbit Charge 3
With a cushy new desk job, your MBA grad might need a reminder to get up and move. The Fitbit Charge 3 is Fitbit’s most advanced tracker and offers hourly reminders to move and drink water and offers a vibrating alarm clock option for the heavy sleepers. You can also switch bands depending on whether your grad’s at work or hitting the gym.

GlocalMe G3 Pocket WIFI Hotspot
For internet access where there’s no WiFi, this GlocalMe G3 4G LTE global private high-speed mobile pocket WIFI hotspot MiFi device seems essential for grads expecting frequent business travel. While charging devices, the G3 provides Internet connectivity anywhere road warriors can access a cell signal. What’s more, Amazon customers love this product, making it one of the first to earn the new Amazon’s Choice Award. Currently, the G3 ranks as the #1 bestseller in Amazon’s mobile broadband hotspots category; the device earns more than 80 percent four-star and five-star reviews; and Amazon reports 53 percent fewer returns than similar products.

Google Chromecast
No millennial home is complete without a Google Chromecast. This inexpensive little dongle seems innocuous but plugs into any TV or projector with a USB hole and seamlessly connects your phone or computer opening up all of the streaming possibilities.

Douglas Mark
Douglas Mark
Writer

While a partner in a San Francisco marketing and design firm, for over 20 years Douglas Mark wrote online and print content for the world’s biggest brands, including United Airlines, Union Bank, Ziff Davis, Sebastiani, and AT&T. Since his first magazine article appeared in MacUser in 1995, he’s also written on finance and graduate business education in addition to mobile online devices, apps, and technology. Doug graduated in the top 1 percent of his class with a business administration degree from the University of Illinois and studied computer science at Stanford University.

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