Do you have a keen new grad student in your life? Is someone gearing up to start a masters degree or PhD this fall and you want to find the perfect gift that will help them rock this next phase of life? As someone who has already spent 5 years in grad school, this is the list of things that I use and love and think help me continue to move forward in my research and life.
1. Caffination station
Both my MSc and PhD have been made possible by coffee. Not only is this chemical dependance helpful in getting things done, the coffee break convos have been sources of emotional support as well as places to generate new research ideas.
In terms of a versitile, durable, and simple coffee maker, I am a huge fan of the Aeropress. If you throw in a metal filter, your fav grad student won’t even need to remember to re-order the paper filters. Travel mug: Obviously I wouldn’t want you to be filling the world with to-go cups, so a lovely travel mug – like the glass Keep Cup – are a perfect gift. The small (8oz) is great for those who are americano/black coffee fans, or you might consider a larger size if lattes and iced coffees are more your grad student’s preference. Coffee subscription service: If your grad student is the UK, you could also splash out on a coffee subscription service like Pact. Coffee arrives like magic according to the schedule you set and it is one of the best things. (If you want £5 off your first order, use my referral code: LOVELYOUTLIERS).
2. Things to write brilliant thoughts
Refillable fountain pen and ink: I am so happy with this system – a Lamy pen with a refillable cartridge and a bottle of ink. I have been using this exclusively for 2 years, and it is the best. Notebooks: I have been a fan of the Leuchtturm/Moleskin/Rhodia notebooks, as evidenced by a teetering stack of them on my bookshelf. They are a solid notebook for sure.
Recently, I have switched to the decomposition books, in the interest of using a product made from recycled paper and soy inks.
3. Things to stay organized
Passion planner: I still love a paper planner, so I can look at my weeks and plan for what is coming up. The best planner I have ever used is the Passion Planner, because it brings together goal setting, gratitude journaling, inspirational quotes, and practical layouts. (If you add my email as your referrer, email@example.com). Evernote subscription: I love using Evernote to store things I need to remember, important documents, digitized files, and more. It is easy to email things directly to an Evernote folder so I have all the important ideas, tasks, and tools in the same place. An annual subscription would be a very welcome gift idea for your fav grad student.
3. Things to look periodically profesh
Travel steamer: I have added this to the list because I am quite obsessed with travel steamers, but I have not yet convinced myself that I need it. I tend to rock up at lectures and conferences looking lightly rumpled. Maybe if I level up in academia, I will gift myself one of these bad boys.
5. Encouragement & perspective
When things are stalled in your research and you find yourself bashing your head on your keyboard, it can be hard to remember that there are things in the world that you are good at. Sometimes, what your fav grad student most needs is a little encouragement to see that even when things are frustrating, there is a whole world out there. This little book has hundreds of hilarious reminders of some other skills you might have totally nailed, even if you aren’t currently rocking your research. I, for example, am unafraid of using public drinking fountains, accurately describing my pain on a scale of 1 to 10, and clapping along. As you can see, I am tremendously good at things. Your favourite grad student will likely be a little bit annoying in the coming years – perhaps a little stressed, prone to complaining about the same things ad nauseum, and perpetually poor, but with your love and support, they will hopefully get to the other side triumphant (and you may get a very special mention in their dissertation acknowledgments).