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I was among the top few at my institute, and former classmates and professors respect me for that and in general. I landed a coveted job after graduation, but have changed jobs twice, with some gaps in between.

At my current workplace, I have 6 people from my Alma mater out of about 300 employees, and 5 of them are either from a later year (currently one level higher post than mine) or from my own class (2 levels higher, I'm reporting to their peer).

I'm ok with this because I'd changed fields and maybe I don't have enough relevant experience.

But this makes it a little embarrassing for me when I introduce myself to new people in my current workplace, or when I'm connecting with other known people who know about my batch mates working at the same place at a higher level. Almost everyone comments something like "Oh, isn't XYZ from your batch a senior/lead worker at the same place? "

I don't think anyone wants to hurt me, but it does leave me with a feeling that I'm supposed to explain this (aberration?), and the fact that I used to do very well in college makes it a genuine question, if somewhat immature. I feel this also hurts my future prospects. So, I've even avoided a few networking events to escape the situation, especially if alum co-workers are expected to attend.

How best should I introduce myself and respond to such a follow up question?

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    Them: "Oh, isn't XYZ from your batch a senior/lead worker at the same place? " You: "Yes, he/she is". No need to go any deeper than that. – Laconic Droid May 18 '17 at 14:32
  • You introduce yourself as you always would. The embarrassment is on your side, as you said, nobody is possibly trying to embarrass you, they are probably trying to start a conversation. So one possible answer would be "Yes, we actually were in the same course about ABC (relevant subject) which was a lot of fun/where we used to talk about XYZ (relevant specific subject)." or "Yes, at that time we did not have many courses together because I focused on KLM while he was already interested in ABC. I decided to switch fields later because I got really interested in XYZ..." – skymningen May 18 '17 at 14:34
  • I don't know the full structure of your company, or how friendly you were with these people, but I would attend all the networking functions I could. If you act like they are superior to you, then that's how you will be treated. If you act like a peer to them, perhaps making your experience in other companies a positive instead of a negative, then maybe you'll be on the fast track to promotions. Just my opinion. – curt1893 May 18 '17 at 15:27
  • Not everyone wants to be a lead, some are very happy in non-management positions for their whole career. – angarg12 May 18 '17 at 16:37
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Yes and XYZ is a great leader and I feel honored to work with them.

No need to feel embarassed. You have a professional job, I assume you enjoy what you do, and feel adequately compensated (even if, like everyone, you would love a raise.) There is absolutely no reason to feel ashamed.

If someone tries to use that to belittle you, or as tries to use this an insult, just turn the tables and display how happy you are. Nothing gets an antagonists goat better than you being happy about what they want to pick on you about. And if it was not antagonistic this only reflects well on your character as you can respect other people and do not feel the need to compare hand size with your colleagues.

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  • Thanks for the answer. But part of my worry is that till the time I was living an unconnected life, where no co-workers were from my college, I was beyond a direct comparison. Now, when such a direct comparison happens with so many of my classmates or college mates, does it not affect my chances for the next job which might be via a referral? I may be happy, but how to avoid or downplay these kinds of comparisons? – DS R May 18 '17 at 16:44
  • The best way to down play them is to do as i suggested embrace it as a positive when it pops up. There is no way to avoid people being judgmental that is what we do. – IDrinkandIKnowThings May 18 '17 at 17:32
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How many of these colleagues have been relevant in your life since you graduated? That determines how interested you should be in what they're thinking. They don't show up and do your work for you; they didn't interview for you; they don't live in your skin, and have not shared your circumstances. They don't pay your bills.

Let's also not overlook the fact that anyone having a more senior position might not be enjoying the same quality of life as you. Titles are deceiving, but you don't know how any of these people are living at home. If "manager" or "director" means getting calls at 2 AM when stuff is misbehaving, or living out of a suitcase, who's actually doing better?

Live and let live, and others will usually do the same for you. Don't buy into a perceived pecking order. Do your job, get along, and go home to your real life.

As for those introductions - just do you.

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