Top Marketers Share Memorable Graduation Gifts (and a few Photos!)

June 5, 2015

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It is graduation season, and that means caps, gowns, tassels, and parties. Best of all, it means gifts! What was your most memorable graduation gift? What did it mean to you?

That's exactly what we asked some of today’s top marketers, who will no-doubt be providing guidance to the newest members of our industry. Read on to discover their responses.

Michael Brenner, Head of Strategy for NewsCred

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My best friend gave me a copy of the book "Oh, The Places You'll Go" by Dr. Seuss. I guess it's a pretty standard graduation gift. But inside he wrote a note encouraging me to chase my dreams and keep my head.

This note showed me that his real gift was friendship. Something no one can take away from you. It was a great life lesson as I was just starting out.

Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer for MarketingProfs

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To mark the close of middle school, my mother bought me my own IBM Selectric typewriter.

It came in a hard, plastic case with a handle. This made the Selectric “portable,” even if it was as heavy as a Honda Civic and produced a persistent, unmelodic drone—not unlike the inside of a jet at 30,000 feet.

Equipped with different fonts and a crude capacity for something called “word processing,” it even came with correction tape. The Selectric was the first hint at the power of personal computing waiting just around the corner. It was also a lavish gift for our decidedly middle-class family.

But I didn’t appreciate any of that. I loved my Selectric for a more primal reason.

At 14 my life was small and suburban, predictable and ordinary. But typing on my Selectric, I imagined myself connected to writers everywhere, collectively tapping out a thrilling order of existence. I imagined myself part of something charged, awesome, and extraordinary.

And don't we all want to be seen as extraordinary?

My mother died just after I graduated from college. So, over time, I've come to regard the Selectric as not just a lavish gift, but as a symbol of something else:

My most memorable gift turned out to be not the typewriter itself, but my mother's absolute faith in me as someone capable of being more than ordinary. At least, in her eyes.

I used to think that wasn't enough (So what if your mom thinks you're great?). Now, I realize it's everything.

Dave Kerpen, Founder & CEO of Likeable Local

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It was May of 1998, and along with thousands of my Boston University classmates, I was eagerly anticipating graduation. There were dozens of events and moments to be excited for, but one I was especially looking forward to was our class gift from the school.

Each year, the school gave a surprise gift to graduating seniors- watches, fountain pens, and the like. I believe my year was the first, and last, to get a digital gift:

"Ladies and gentlemen, congrats on graduating. You all will receive free email addresses!" the dean told us.

Looking back, on the one hand, it was innovative and forward thinking. We were one of the first schools to all have email addresses. It was certainly mysterious and intriguing at the time.

On the other hand, now every student gets a school-related email address, and the value of my BU email address is, well, not much.

Love you BU, but I'm thinking a fountain pen would've looked nicer on my desk.

Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Online Marketing

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For college graduation, my little sister gave me a set of luggage. We had both studied abroad in Denmark during University, and with that common bond, she knew I had the bug to travel more - to explore the world and learn new things.

And travel I have: 45 states in the U.S. as well as all over Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, numerous tropical islands, and next week, Mexico City.

That luggage my sister gave me is now long gone, but the memories I've gained from all the people and places I've seen will stay with me forever.

Stephanie Sammons, Digital Marketing Strategist & Founder of Wired Advisor

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My favorite college graduation gift was most likely the least expensive and by far the most meaningful. The gift was a handmade leather journal. This was the first 'real' journal I had ever owned and I cherished it.

I had never written in a journal before, other than a silly little diary I could lock with a key! This special journal was a blank slate for recording and reviewing my thoughts as an adult. I wrote about my ideas, dreams, goals, struggles, observations, and any nuggets of wisdom I could gather from books and people.

I've filled up many journals since graduation, but it was that first 'real' journal that sparked my love for writing and helped me understand the true value of the practice.

Whether it’s a writing tool, meaningful words, or a suitcase, the gifts we receive from our biggest supporters can have a lasting influence on our lives.

And as an added bonus, here is my personal submission:

Jason Miller, Senior Content Marketing Manager for LinkedIn

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My graduation gift was a job.

The day after my last class in college I packed up all of my stuff and hit the road to Houston. My father helped me pack up and drove to Texas from St. Louis. While we were driving through the middle of Oklahoma, my new boss called and said when you get to Houston keep going as we are moving you to Austin.

On top of all that chaos, my degree never showed up.  Since I missed the official graduation, I thought that maybe I had missed a required class or something. Turns out that I had a $2.00 late fee at the library and they couldn’t send my degree out until I paid it. So I wrote them a check and dropped it into the mail.

Six months later I still had not received it. So I called them up and asked what happened. Turns out I forgot to sign the check.

We're curious - what's the best graduation gift you've received? Share it with us at @LinkedInMktg.

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