Forget Fountain Pens: 5 Gifts New College Grads Can Really Use

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Graduation giftsThe classic graduation gifts -- fountain pens, desk sets and copies of Oh, The Places You'll Go! -- are perfect if your favorite grad is headed for an artist's colony or off on a vacation. For that matter, the designer tool kits and retro luggage that were enthusiastically embraced by the readers of HuffPo College are great, but won't ease the path from the dorm room to the board room.

For most grads, though, life after college isn't going to provide lots of leisure for contemplation or cruises. With half of recent graduates out of work and student debt shooting through the roof, our young friends will need to hit the ground running, so the best gifts are ones that will help put them on the fast track to a job.

With that in mind, here are five of our favorite presents for the young grad on the go. And, hey, if the recipient gets hired, you can still buy them retro luggage for their first vacation!

Forget Fountain Pens: 5 Gifts New College Grads Can Really Use

As many students already know, offices are less formal than ever, which means that the suit-and-tie look may be an anachronism in their new job. Then again, casual Friday (or Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday ... ) can wait until your fresh-faced grad gets a foot in the door. Until then, a sharp interview suit is vital. If you want to help your favorite grad fill out his or her interview wardrobe at little cost, it's hard to beat a gift certificate to Express, Jos. A Bank, J.C. Penney, or H&M.

Even before the interview happens, your young grad will need a strong résumé. Consumer expert Andrea Woroch suggests that giving a gift certificate to a résumé service could be the perfect way to set your grad on the path to gainful employment. Alternately, it never hurts to buy them a do-it-yourself book such as Amazing Resumes or Knock-Em Dead Resumes.

Woroch also suggests buying your favorite grad a subscription to a magazine or newspaper. Beyond the value of helping him or her keep up with current events for its own sake, having a handle on the latest news can give a person a major leg up when it comes to a job interview. A daily newspaper is a great idea if your grad is already a newshound; if not, try starting with a subscription to Time, The Week, The Atlantic or Wired.

After four years of school, the last thing most students want to do is wander back into a classroom, but professional skills never go out of style. From preparing for interviews to catching up on the latest software, chances are that your graduate could benefit from some last-minute desk time.

That tired Jansport backpack may have served your graduate for the last four years, but chances are good that it's going to look a little out of place in the office. The choice between a messenger bag, computer bag, briefcase or portfolio is often a matter of taste, so you might want to go with a gift certificate. And if you do buy the bag, remember the gift receipt.

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Bruce Watson is a senior features writer for DailyFinance. You can reach him by e-mail at bruce.watson@teamaol.com, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.
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