Social work can be a challenging career. Thankfully, there are people in the world who are willing to undertake this challenge. These are people who are willing to be at the beck and call of their clients at all hours of the day and night. And are eager to assist others with complex needs. These are people who are willing to serve others without the promise of a high salary.
If you have a close friend or family member who is a social worker, consider yourself lucky. You know someone who is committed to helping others.
If you know someone who recently graduated with a degree in social work, here are some gift ideas you may consider. It may help if you know what type of work they will be doing once they graduate.
There is nothing creative about this gift. But since the average salary of a beginning social worker is $30,000, this gift may be more appreciated than any other.
Your friend or family member may have to move to a different city to start a new job. If they took out student loans, their payments might be kicking in soon. And depending on their new job, they may need to buy reliable transportation. There are a lot of expenses involved in starting a professional career. A little extra cash will be appreciated.
Social workers tend to be interested in social issues. Up to this point, they probably have had little time to read bestsellers. Pursuing a degree requires a lot of time reading textbooks and research articles.
Look at the non-fiction bestseller list for inspiration. Think about the population the graduate will be serving. Those working in a hospital or hospice settings may appreciate receiving books on grief. Those working with children may appreciate books by people who went through the foster care system.
Reading about these issues may be helpful for social workers. Especially those who have little first-hand experience with the problems their clients will be facing.
Looking to personalize the book? Consider adding a short, meaningful quote about graduation to the inside cover.
3. “I’m a Social Worker” Mugs, T-Shirts, or Signs
Social workers are proud of their profession. They know that what they do makes a difference in the lives of others.
For that reason, consider searching your favorite online store for unique gifts for social workers. Unlike teachers, most social workers do not receive gifts from clients. It’s unlikely that they already have the t-shirt or mug you’re considering.
4. Smartphone Accessories
Some social workers spend a great deal of time in their cars. Their work often takes them all over. They may visit clients, transport children, or check-in at schools. They may find themselves going to several neighborhoods in a single day.
If the new graduate will be driving a lot as part of their new job, consider purchasing a phone mounting system. Check whether their car has a Bluetooth speaker and auxiliary plug. If it doesn’t have either of these things, find one that can be plugged into the car’s cigarette lighter.
Try to find out what type of phone the graduate will be using before buying something. Different phones use different plugs and attachments. Also, make sure you include a gift receipt to make returns easy.
5. High-Quality Coffee Mug or Water Bottle
Chances are, this graduate will always be on the move. Buy a high-quality travel mug or refillable water bottle so they can stay hydrated.
If you get one that is insulated they can use it for hot or cold drinks. Not only is this a practical gift, it’s an environmentally friendly one, too.
6. Gift Certificate for Pampering
People who go into social work are often the types of people who put their own needs last. Consider purchasing a gift certificate for a massage, spa treatments, or manicure. It’s amazing how refreshed one can feel after a pedicure.
Your friend will feel as if they can tackle the world after just a little pampering.
You can buy them a spa gift certificate that's good around the US, so they can pick their spa of choice.
7. Professional Clothing
The wardrobe of a college student is different from that of a professional. Picking out clothes for individuals can be difficult. Help the graduate to buy a new wardrobe by providing them with gift cards to a local mall or clothing store.
Try to get them a gift card to a place that has a large selection. That way they can find clothes that work for their style and needs.
8. Alumni Accessories
Completing a college degree is worth celebrating — especially if your friend or family member earned a Master’s degree. If the graduate has a lot of school spirit, consider purchasing accessories declaring this.
You may consider purchasing a keychain, a license plate frame, jacket, or Christmas tree ornament. The local college store will have a plethora of items to choose from. If you can't get to the store, search on Amazon for their alma mater's apparel.
9. Diploma Frame
Are you looking for an idea that would be appropriate for any college graduate? Why not get a frame for their diploma?
Diplomas sometimes have an odd shape, which means they need specialized frames. You can also buy one that includes a spot for the tassel that was hanging from their cap at graduation, like this diploma and tassel frame with a wood grain finish.
10. A Gift Card to a Nice Restaurant
Why not buy the graduate a gift card to a nice restaurant in town?
Better yet, why not take your friend out for a celebratory dinner? You wanted an excuse to try that new restaurant, didn’t you?
11. Tickets to a Local Event
Money might be tight for a while for this new social worker. If you know that your friend or family member enjoys a particular artist, buy them tickets to a special event. That way they can enjoy a night out on the town.
You could also consider buying tickets to the theater or a sporting event. But the tickets don’t need to be for something big. The graduate would probably even appreciate a gift certificate to a local movie theater.
12. Donation to a Favorite Charity
You might consider donating to a charity in the name of the graduate.
Check their social media pages to see if there are any clues about what charities are important to them.
13. A Membership to a Gym
Caution: This gift may unintentionally offend the recipient. Only use this idea if you know the graduate well.
The reality is that a gym membership would be a lovely gift. College students usually have unlimited access to gym facilities as part of their enrollment. That access ends at graduation, so they are probably looking for somewhere to exercise. Also, being a social worker is a stressful job, and they will need a way to combat the fatigue caused by such stress.
Again, you might want to talk with the graduate before purchasing this gift. There may be a particular facility that is convenient to their office or house. And you want to make sure that no offense is taking with this purchase.
If you aren' sure what gym they love, get them an at-home gym kit with resistance bands, door anchors, and an e-book.
College graduations are special occasions. When you have a special occasion, it is appropriate to give a special present.
Perhaps that present might be a beautiful piece of jewelry. If you don’t know the particular style of the graduate, consider purchasing a classic piece, like a some simple gold jewelry.
Everyone needs a few nice pieces of luggage. Buy a piece that can fit in the overhead compartment of an airplane, like this Samsonite Omni PC Hardside Expandable Carry-On with Spinner Wheels.
The recipient will think of you every time they travel.
16. Computer Bag
Social workers are constantly on the move. Consider purchasing a professional-looking bag that the graduate can use for their laptop, such as this inexpensive leather work bag.
It’ll help keep their laptop in working order.
Some people prefer paper planners. And it’s a helpful way to keep track of appointments and meetings. There are many versions available, including Artfan planner with a hardcover, pockets, and thick paper.
And people can have strong opinions about what planner works best. Consider purchasing a gift certificate to a store that sells planners.
Your friend may have many unique and interesting interactions with their clients. They won’t be able to share the stories with people outside of the profession since that would be unethical.
To help them process what they see day to day, they may find it helpful to journal. A nice leather-bound journal with a nice pen would make a lovely gift.
Sometimes we tend to think too hard about what would make a perfect gift. But everyone loves new socks!
There’s nothing better than sliding on a new pair of socks on a cold winter morning and everybody loves a pair of comfy Smartwool socks.
20. A Heartfelt Letter or Card
It is important to tell those close to us how we feel about them. On this special occasion, take the time to write a heartfelt card or letter to the person who is graduating.
Tell them how important they are to you. And how proud you are that they completed something difficult.
Life is short. Take the time to tell others how you feel. Say “I love you” more. And show your loved one how proud you are of the work they’re doing. Even if the gift is small the sentiment behind it isn’t.
Keep a pack of blank congratulations cards around so you're never rushing to find a card.
- “Social Work Salaries.” careers.socialworkers.org/findajob/salarysurvey.asp.