1. A “professional” looking briefcase, messenger bag, or tote. It’s important to look pulled together for job interviews and campus visits, even if your normal style is more casual. A nice looking leather or nylon bag in a neutral color is essential for men and women on the job market. Ebags.com is a good resource.
2. A nice-looking padfolio. This is another job market essential–a padded folder with paper for making notes and pockets to keep sample syllabuses, information on schools, et cetera. Make sure it’s of a size that will fit in your aforementioned bag.
1. A functional work bag is the best option because it can be brought to conferences or interviews. Usually items such as these are luxuries, but carrying around the bag we’ve had since undergrad doesn’t always leave the best impression. Ideally it will look sleek on the outside with many, many pockets on the inside.
1. On Writing Well by William Zinsser. Zinsser has been teaching nonfiction writing since the 1970s and his book is an excellent resource for anyone writing in the genre. Among the books about writing I own, it’s one of my favorites.
2. Getting Things Done by David Allen. Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin are in the middle of a Getting Things Done arc where they are revisiting Allen’s GTD system on the Back to Work podcast. I have been rereading my heavily dog-eared copy, and Allen’s system has lots of ideas about managing tasks and projects that can easily be applied to managing work in graduate school.
1. Business cards are a great gift, and while you can’t really buy them, you can give a gift card to a local printing place or the university store so that your grad can buy them. Getting a cool case for the cards is also nice! My dad got me this Edgar Allen Poe and Skeleton one- which is perfect since I study human remains.
2. Having a ‘fancy’ version of a water bottle is usually a good purchase. I have a beat up pink Camelbak bottle that I love for working out, carrying to classes and using when I’m out in the field doing archaeology. It’s not conference appropriate, so I suggest getting them a nice glass waterbottle that they can carry around!
What professional gifts do you suggest for a grad student?
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