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Best Swag Ideas for Interns and University Recruiting

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Think you need to invest as much money in your intern swag pack or university swag as you would your full-time employee onboarding swag? Think again! While it pays to spend some time selecting swag items recipients will actually use, you don’t have to outspend your budget.

When it’s time to brainstorm swag ideas for college students you’ll want items with a high cool factor they can’t wait to show off to their friends on social media. Peer-to-peer advertising, especially for Gen Zers, is prized above all other marketing approaches.


Maybe your eyes feel like salted almonds right now from surfing the internet in search of the best Amazon gifts for college students or gift ideas for student interns. You could continue endlessly roaming the internet in search of the perfect intern swag kit or you could contact a company like Gemnote whose business it is to be up on the swag trends by age group and industry, and who are able to advise you according to their keen sense for the balance between swag coolness, quality and functionality. We can save you a lot of research time and help you curate intern swag packages and promo items for college students that are definitely cool enough to be social-media-worthy. 


In this article we’ll look at:

  1. Swag for interns
  2. Swag for university recruiting
  3. Swag ideas
  4. More swag ideas
  5. Your Gen Z target
  6. Importance of swag

The Best Intern Swag

The best intern swag package usually includes the expected professional gifts for interns like notebooks, pens, water bottles and the like, plus some unexpected fun items for work or play—buttons, stickers, a puzzle or maybe a keychain. The cool factor comes into play from the product design aesthetics or by virtue of the item brand itself—could be a well-known prestige brand or an up-and-coming brand known for its commitment to sustainability. Present your intern swag pack in a wow-worthy container and it could also become the focus of an unboxing opportunity on social media.

The Best University Recruiting Swag

Your goal at a university job fair is to get noticed (in a good way). Trend-savvy swag that gets snapped up (and has more than a one-time use) will pump up your brand awareness on campus with every wear or use. This kind of peer-to-peer advertising is priceless and makes your investment in cut-above swag well worth it.

Check out these 4 intern swag pack ideas

For some ideas to get you started, browse the following collections of swag we imagined for onboarding interns and university recruiting giveaways at four different companies. The items we included are gender-neutral so you would not have to invest in two separate swag packs— ultimately saving you time and money.  


1. Learn something new every day…

Because MasterClass produces online subscription classes featuring well-known instructors expounding topics in their field of expertise, we thought they might curate an intern swag set a lifelong student would love. The brands have a cachet that elevates even the most basic items and their practical functionality translates into repeat use and high visibility for your brand.

Depending on your budget, you could select any one item—from the Nike hip pack, Bella Canvas hoodie, to the Miir insulated bottle—as a standout giveaway at university job fairs.


2. Come to the table…

Chances are that there’s a team at your company using Airtable, the all-in-one collaboration platform to plan, organize, and produce content. Because of their younger corporate vibe, we think Airtable’s intern swag pack might be a tad more casual and geared to fun. Stash any combo of these in a customized drawstring backpack and you’ll have heavy traffic at your college job fair table. 


3. Money matters...

Does anyone really understand bitcoin and how to use it? Of course the folks at Coinbase do, so we put together a swag set for those cryptocurrency-loving, finance-minded interns filled with in-demand brands of classic swag plus some stickers just for fun (always room for one more on that laptop, right?). Yes, the backpack is on the pricey side but might be just what you need when competition is stiff for talent (which is always).


4. Works for me...

Checkr has reinvented the hiring background check process to be more fair to the applicants and easier for the recruiters. Yay! They know what it takes to recruit and retain top talent, so we think their intern swag package would be the perfect combo of work (hoodie, computer case, notebooks and mints) plus whimsy (checkered socks and keychain).

More ideas...

There are, no doubt, plenty of companies out there who give nothing to their onboarding interns, while others not only present interns with onboarding swag, but also ask us for intern appreciation day ideas and going away gifts for interns. For some companies, gift cards for interns is the extent of their largesse, or maybe a voucher for the company cafeteria. We think those would be a nice addition to any swag pack—our vote, however,  is always for giving some customized items that when used/worn will facilitate a feeling of belonging (as they also advertise your brand).


We found an unboxing video on YouTube (tops with Gen Zers) posted by an Amazon intern. His Amazon intern swag kit included a nice journal, eco-friendly writing pen, coffee mug and face mask, all customized with the Amazon logo and neatly presented in a very cool custom box. Not a mountain of goodies, but it was obvious to see that the guy was super excited about his Amazon intern swag pack and about working for that company.


An Adobe intern swag box image posted on social media showed an array of items customized with the Adobe logo, including a ball cap, pen, journal, tote bag, canister of cookies, and stickers.


An Apple intern recounted she received swag, not in one big box but throughout her orientation. Her Apple intern swag included a cool notebook, shirt, sets of notecards, a keychain, and a ballcap—all customized and all exquisitely packaged in Apple’s iconic minimalistic style.


An unboxing video on YouTube shows an intern opening her Google intern swag kit to reveal a colorful array of goodies, including a super fun intern ballcap with a propeller on top, a customized tee shirt, laptop stickers, and a primo Timbuk2 backpack.

Know your target.

We’ve mentioned Gen Z above, and they are your target here. Unless you’ve recently graduated college, you might need to learn what makes current college students—Gen Zers—tick. Currently almost one-third of the world population, they are expected to dominate the consumer market within a few years. They are the first generation to have grown up in a digital world and this has definitely shaped their expectations. Because these newest entrants to the workforce grew up being tech savvy and socially conscious, their overall approach to companies and the workplace might be different from what you expect. Gen Zers are more loyal to brands that support causes they agree with and are liked by their friends. Something to keep top of mind as you make your swag selections.

Why Swag?

Who doesn’t love swag? Gifts! Free stuff! Yay! But swag for new interns, who are at the very least a bit intimidated, also sends a deeper message about belonging. Humans have an innate and powerful need to belong. You need your people, your tribe. Gen Zers, in particular, are looking for jobs that are fulfilling beyond the paycheck and benefits. Gifts for new interns send a message of welcome and belonging. Using/wearing the items increases their sense of belonging—like when everybody wears their company tee on casual Fridays. And that feeling of belonging will foster loyalty and increase productivity too. With this in mind, onboarding swag for interns is a small investment that offers a huge return.

In closing...

Make sure you get the kind of swag gifts for interns and giveaways for college students that will be a delight to receive and will reflect well on your company. Shoddy swag will actually detract from your brand and that will cost you in many unseen ways. Depend on Gemnote to help you put together high quality, in-demand items to make exciting gifts for interns and college students that fit your budget and your corporate culture. We can even put your swag packs together for you. Plus, we’ll drop ship swag packs to those working remotely. Warehousing is available and even a way to manage your inventory online. All in one place. All so easy. Contact Gemnote to get your project started today.

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