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I have mugs, coasters, etc. from previous employers that I enjoy using, but am hesitant about bringing them to work at my current employer because they're branded with former employer's logo. Will it seem like Coke vs. Pepsi if I bring those in? What if they're not exactly competitors, or even in the same industry?

What about achievement plaques/awards? On one hand, they're a testament to your expertise and experience, but may be perceived by your current colleagues as pretentious.

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  • Do you have space for all this?
    – Kilisi
    Apr 29, 2021 at 16:07
  • Not that many. Mug and coaster don't take up that much space, and they're just on my desk. We have shelves/cabinets for books and other personal items that I could use for plaques (just two or so for Length of Service and Project Achievement). Space is irrelevant... would a new executive place awards from former employer in his/her office? That's what I would like to know.
    – Dave H.
    Apr 29, 2021 at 16:11
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    Every place I've been, this type of corporate swag is considered a sort of minor trophy to indicate seniority, like, "hey look Bob worked at IBM in 1990" or similar. Often they come with stories. I've never seen a negative reaction.
    – Pete W
    Apr 29, 2021 at 16:26
  • Curious why the downvote... I see colleagues wearing shirts from previous employers to work all the time. Just extending this to personal items.
    – Dave H.
    Apr 29, 2021 at 16:28
  • @PeteW That's what I thought too.
    – Dave H.
    Apr 29, 2021 at 16:29

3 Answers 3

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If you have certificates, awards, and souvenirs that are industry wide rather than specific to your employer, by all means bring them to work. That mug a podcast sent you after you appeared? That certificate you earned after 6 months of studying and a seven-hour exam? Absolutely, they belong in your office.

Things that have only the logo of your former employer, or make sense only in that context (an award for fewest bugs or a plaque that you get when a customer sends a testimonial about you) -- leave them at home and use them when you want to reminisce about the place you used to work. You don't have to hate that place forever, it's great that you like it, but you don't work there any more, so those things don't belong in your office at work.

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  • I feel it might be advisable to make this clear / shorter for the OP. As in "forget this silly idea" :/
    – Fattie
    May 1, 2021 at 23:05
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I have mugs, coasters, etc. from previous employers that I enjoy using

It's a mug. It's not that important. Find a new mug.

may be perceived by your current colleagues as pretentious.

That'll be because it is pretentious. I don't care what you did at your previous employer, I care that you're productive in your new role.

Realistically, are these things that important to you that you're preparing to risk alienating your new colleagues? If not, you know the answer to your question already.

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  • Yeah, I'd leave them at home, might have my certifications at work, but only if asked.
    – Kilisi
    Apr 29, 2021 at 16:13
  • Thanks for the insight. You're right, it's just a mug I could just get another; It's also just a mug that they couldn't care less what's printed on it - goes both ways. Though to avoid potential awkwardness in the workplace, your suggestion is valid.
    – Dave H.
    Apr 29, 2021 at 16:21
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    @DaveH., To tell you the truth, the mugs are fine (unless it's a direct competitor), but to me, since you brought them up at the same time you brought up your awards, it sounds to me like you see them in the same light, and that you're actually proud of your former company, which is fine. Just keep it low-key, a mug or two is fine, but don't over do it with too many objects from your former employer. Apr 29, 2021 at 17:46
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Nobody cares about utility things.

There are exceptions, but generally? Nobody's going to care whether your coffee mug says "Some Random Prior Company", "Coding Fuel Within", or "Worlds Greatest Dad". It's a mug - you use it to drink coffee from.

Same thing with most utilitarian items. General rule of thumb: if it's not a competitor, and it's not clothing (which sort of marks you as an employee of the prior company) it's fine.

Nobody cares about your past awards from another company

However, that doesn't mean you should display these. It's because it's the equivalent of a 27 year old bragging about their SAT score: it comes across a bit 'braggy' and the time that it actually mattered has passed. Nobody cares whether you earned "Programmer of the Month" from your past job. It was relevant when you were applying for the job to begin with, but not for what you're doing now.

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