If you were to ask an MBA student for ideas of gifts to give them, many might say something like “a check to cover my student loans,” or “a cushy job with a corner office.”
Obviously, you need some more realistic options, so we’ve put together a list of gift ideas that are sure to delight any MBA student.
Although many MBA students take notes right on their computers, not everyone loves typing while listening to lectures. Not to mention, research shows that using a pen and paper to take notes actually helps you remember the information better and improves understanding of concepts. Give your MBA student the best of both worlds with a digital pen. These nifty devices run about $150, and automatically transcribe everything written with them into a digital file. Students can then have notes in both written and electronic formats, making it easier to create study guides, review notes and stay organized.
Crunching numbers is a major part of business school classes, and that gets a lot easier when you have a financial calculator. More powerful than a basic calculator, a financial calculator makes it easy to figure out statistical problems, interest rates and amortization, time value of money and all sorts of other financial problems. If the gift recipient is studying for an exam like the Certified Financial Professional (CFP) or Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), choose a calculator model that can be used during those exams.
Students earning an MBA online, or who are on the go a lot, will appreciate receiving a Wi-Fi hotspot that can connect them to the internet just about anywhere – without having to use risky public Wi-Fi. Pick up one of these devices from any mobile wireless provider or electronics retailer.
Personalized stationery might sound like something that went out of style a long time ago, but for an up-and-coming professional, it can be a key part of building a brand. Consider this: Anyone can send an email, but receiving a handwritten note on quality, personalized stationery says that the sender is put together, professional and elegant. Invest in the highest-quality stationery you can afford, with a simple, block or script personalization.
Travel is a big part of many MBA programs, and it doesn’t end after graduation. Travel accessories are always a good choice for an MBA gift. A nice, high-quality travel carry-on bag that can hold everything necessary for a short trip is a good idea. Or, consider travel accessories like a passport cover or toiletry kit. Another option is a set of space-saving packing cubes. For busy professionals who don’t have time to check bags, packing cubes make it possible to carry more in less space, and prevent wrinkling in-flight. Everyone can agree that’s a good thing.
Speaking of traveling, noise-canceling headphones have become a necessity for many business travelers who want to work without being distracted by the crying baby three rows up. These headphones can also be useful for students and are a well-received gift for anyone who needs to tune out distractions while reading or working on case studies (so in other words, all MBA students.)
You’re probably thinking, “but, gift cards are so lame! They require no thought at all!”
That’s not necessarily true.
Your favorite MBA student is probably going to thank you when they don’t have to spring for their sixth cup of coffee during a late-night study session thanks to the Starbucks card you gave them. Gift cards can be a very welcome and practical gift for an MBA student, especially when they help them manage expenses, save time or both. Consider giving gift cards to bookstores, grocery stores, coffee shops, meal services, gas stations or other practical places where students spend money. Many gift cards can even be added to online accounts, so the student can keep it safe for future purchases. Trust us, they’ll thank you for making their lives easier.
A Resume Revamp
Whether they are just starting to apply to business school or about to apply to their first professional job, there is one thing that all MBAs need: A killer resume. So why not give them some help, with a session or two with a professional resume writer? A gift certificate for a professionally written and designed resume is a thoughtful and practical gift – and one that will keep on giving.
If they already have a great resume, they might appreciate some sessions with a career or life coach, branding expert or web designer to create a professional website.
If there’s one thing that all MBA students have in common, it’s that they drink a lot of coffee. That makes a coffee maker the perfect gift. Spring for one of the swanky ones that can make lattes and other coffeehouse-style drinks, and they will love you forever. Throw a travel mug in for the ultimate package!
Business school is stressful, and it can be hard to find time for self-care and relaxation. Give your favorite MBA student a nudge in that direction by giving the gift of tranquil rejuvenation. A gift certificate for a massage, a spa day, a hot shave or other relaxing services can go a long way toward getting an MBA student through the tough days and helping them stay focused, relaxed, and healthy.
At the end of the day, the best gift for any MBA student is one that is personal, thoughtful, and chosen with that individual in mind. Something that they can use to succeed in school. Well, that’s just a bonus – even if you can’t give them a full scholarship.