12 Graduation Gifts Under $30 for Young Professionals

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The world is college graduates' oyster, whether they’re preparing for job interviews or heading to their first job right out of school. Send them off in grand style with professional accessories, tools, and gadgets under $30 to ease them into their post-college careers.


Bookbags and school bags aren’t professional enough for many office settings. A grad may want to ditch a shapeless polyester bag for a structured, vintage-style backpack, but leather bags can cost hundreds of dollars. Instead, opt for a stylish (mostly) synthetic bag that mimics the rich material ($23 on Amazon). It has earned a 4.3-star average from 90 reviews, many of which say the material doesn’t look cheap. It features adjustable straps, pockets on the front and sides, a zipper enclosure, a laptop compartment, and two interior pockets.


Even if the grad isn’t already a coffee drinker, it may take only a few months on the job to develop a habit. A Mr. Coffee Mug Warmer ($10 at Bed Bath & Beyond) keeps coffee warm until the mug is empty. It's simple to use: Just plug it in and flip the on/off switch. Spills wipe off easily.


To dress for the job they want, college grads may need to stock up on ties, belts, scarves, and other accessories. The Ipow rotating rack ($7 for two on Amazon) spins 360 degrees and holds everything in place with anti-slip arms. More than 500 reviewers have granted it an average of 4.3 stars.


Moleskine stationery is sold at most major office supply stores, and with good reason. This popular product line features durable covers, steadfast spine binding, smooth pages, and elastic closures. If the graduate enjoys journaling or compiling to-do lists, or perhaps needs a place for work notes, consider gifting a few Moleskine notebooks or journals. Pocket journals start at $13 through Dick Blick.


Professional work outfits are important for client meetings and presentations, and that includes polished and tidy dress shoes. Save the grad in your life from misshapen shoes with cedar wood shoe trees to help maintain the shoe shape, absorb moisture, and prevent odors. The Rochester women's shoe tree ($20 on Amazon) and Stratton cedar shoe tree for men ($20 to $23 on Amazon) have earned positive reviews from dozens of customers.


Moo has surged to popularity by offering luxury business cards online. Help the graduate network at events, in meetings, or out on the town with a gift card to Moo, which lets customers design cards from scratch or use a template. The company charges a bit more than competitors such as Vistaprint, but a pack of 50 high-quality business cards starts at $20 plus shipping.


Most people seem to depend on a mobile phone for their morning alarm these days, but a drained battery or "do not disturb" mode may silence the alarm, resulting in a frantic scramble to get to work on time. Save grads from tardiness with the Electrohome Retro Alarm Clock ($30 on Amazon). It comes with a motion-activated snooze function and night light. It also has a radio, automatic daylight savings time adjustment, power failure backup, optional alarm cancellation on weekends, and an indoor temperature function.


Everyone needs a mug at work for coffee or water. It’s too soon for a new grad to fall back on a dull, traditional mug that will get lost among those claiming to belong to the “World’s Best Dad.” Instead, give a quirky but sophisticated "floating" mug ($15 at Uncommon Goods), which has a handle that makes it seem like the mug is suspended in midair above a small coaster.


A Berchirly bag with detachable shoulder strap ($29 on Amazon) has a compartment for a small laptop and comes in canvas or synthetic leather. At the time of writing, there were less than a dozen in stock, but other similarly attractive bags are selling under the Berchirly name for a few dollars more. Another option with less feedback from reviewers is a waterproof canvas bag in stylish black ($21) or gray ($23). It holds a larger 15.6-inch laptop and has an exterior card pocket with button closure for a transit card, ID, credit card, or office security card.


No need to shell out hundreds of dollars for a fancy pen such as a Montblanc. A unique maple and rosewood pen ($29 at Executive Gift Shoppe) comes with free engraving. It features gold accents and a two-tone wooden case that will class up any grad’s new desk at work.


For grads with a thirst for knowledge that wasn't quenched in college, present a gift card for an online course related to their chosen profession. Whether it's project management, Photoshop, public speaking, or basic accounting, there are classes in a variety of price ranges. Services such as Codecademy, Udacity, General Assembly, Coursera, and Lynda offer thousands of classes students can take on their own time. Some provide certificates to show completion.


Graduates with jobs that plant them in front of computers all day should work in comfort with an ergonomic keyboard and mouse. Ergonomic gadgets support wrist and hand alignment, helping prevent carpal tunnel and related wrist pain. The Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 ($35 at Best Buy but on sale for $28 at the time of writing) has a raised, curved shape and comfy palm rests, and the curved Logitech M570 Wireless Trackball Mouse ($27.50 at Walmart) features a laser trackball for smooth control.