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Top 8 gifts for an aspiring software engineer

Hack Reactor

By Brittany Anas for Hack Reactor

From artisan brainteasers to beer glasses adorned with HTML code, we’ve curated a list of holiday gifts well suited for the aspiring software engineers on your shopping list this season. 

But truth be told, if you’ve got someone on your gift list who is passionate about writing code and curious about a career in software engineering, one of the very best gifts you can give them is some encouragement to pursue their career goals. Enrolling in a coding bootcamp online, for instance, can help them take an interest in coding from a hobby to a well-paid career. 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that software engineering careers will grow 22 percent over the next decade, and the median salary for this career is $107,000 — so graduating from a coding bootcamp could also check off a New Year’s resolution to earn more money and find a new, interesting job. 

Still, you can pair your words of encouragement with a gift fit for budding software engineers.

Software engineers have a few things in common: They spend a good deal of time at the computer, they’re experts at problem-solving and many have a great appreciation for user-friendly, thoughtfully designed gear and tech. Keeping this in mind will help you find the perfect holiday gift.

If you don’t know much about JavaScript or think of mosquito zappers when you hear the term debugging, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Ahead, eight great gift ideas for up-and-coming software engineers.


HTML Beer Glasses —  Set of 2, $25 at Uncommon Goods

Code Beer Glasses from Uncommon Goods

Say cheers to this unabashedly geeky glassware. The pilsner glasses feature a little HTML lingo. To really nail this gift, pair the glasses with a six-pack of your recipient’s favorite craft beer. 


A Coding Bootcamp, Cost Varies

Hack Reactor logo

For the ultimate gift, show the aspiring software engineer in your life that you want to invest in his or her talent by contributing to the tuition costs for a Hack Reactor coding bootcamp. Students have the flexibility to enroll in on-site, remote, or part-time remote bootcamps, and, upon completion, have an edge in the job market. The biggest names in tech hire Hack Reactor coding bootcamp grads, including Facebook, Google, Uber, Apple, Adobe, LinkedIn, Amazon, PayPal, and more. In addition to coding bootcamps, Hack Reactor offers professional development courses that can help software engineers ascend to the next levels in their careers. 


Around the World Brainteasers — Set of 5, $20 at Uncommon Goods

Around the World Brain Teasers Uncommon Goods

A great stocking stuffer, these wood brain teasers are the perfect coffee table or desk addition for those, like engineers, love to problem solve. Part puzzle, part cultural exploration, this set is a conversation starter. The set of global brain teasers are inspired by the inventions and achievements of five global civilizations. Sample the mystery of Chinese tea, reverse engineer the Greek water mill, solve the challenge of Egyptian Pi, unlock Roman keys, and try the Aztec passion flower. 


Tech-Friendly Backpack, $29.99 at Amazon

Tech friendly backpack from Amazon

Designed to fit and protect laptops and gear, this waterproof, tech-friendly backpack from Matein is ideal for a software engineering student or a coder who commutes to a workspace or the office. It’s packed with thoughtful user-friendly amenities, including a built-in USB charger and built-in charging cable, plus a key fob hook and compartments for techy gear. The backpack comes in a variety of colors, including grey, blue, red, and black.


Computer Programming Hoodie, $34.99 at Amazon

Programming hoodie

A cozy and fitting sweatshirt for anyone on your list who thinks and breathes code. The clock has a bunch of coding buzzwords — HTML, Javascript, PHP, C, C#, C++, and Python — that might look like a foreign language to anyone outside the software engineering circles.


Laptop Light for Conferencing, $39.99 at Amazon

Laptop Light from Amazon

This laptop light is a must-have for the remote learners and workers on your holiday shopping list. Attach this laptop light to the computer and it will make for a more professional Zoom job interview or remote presentation. 


Software Engineering at Google: Lessons Learned from Programming Over Time, $59.99 at Barnes and Noble

Software Engineering at Google Barnes and Noble

A must-read for the next generation of software engineers, this book gives an authentic glimpse at Google’s unique engineering culture, processes, and tools. Based on their experience at Google, software engineers Titus Winters and Hyrum Wright, along with technical writer Tom Manshreck, share fundamental principles pertaining to designing, architecting, writing, and maintaining code.


Sphero BOLT App-Enabled Robot Ball, $149.99 at Amazon

Sphero BOLT: App-Enabled Robot Ball with Programmable Sensors

The Sphero BOLT is a programmable robot ball that coders can drive and code. Creators can control things like the ball's compass, light sensor, gyroscope, accelerometer, and much more. This is a great gift for anyone looking to have some fun while learning more about programming fundamentals.


What gifts will you be picking up for the up-and-coming software engineer on your holiday list this year?