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This Valentine’s Month, we’re talking romance and relationships. Let’s begin by tackling an age-old question: can you work at the same company with your significant other? Is it possible to maintain both romantic and professional relationships with your lover-slash-colleague? To find out, Jeremiah Capacillo spoke with Brevo graphic designers Carissa Lucasia and Tim Leachon, aka the agency’s resident creative power couple.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Jeremiah: Hey guys! Okay, let’s start with the basics—how did the two of you meet and fall in love?

Tim: Carissa and I were actually both batchmates and coursemates at the College of Saint Benilde, we were both then taking up Multimedia Arts.

Carissa: We weren’t close for the first few years. We just knew each other from mutual friends and classes.

T: Later on, I followed Carissa on Twitter and we started chatting online.

C: A few pizza dates later and, well, here we are.

J: Carissa, you’ve been working as a graphic designer for Brevo since 2018. Tim, you joined the team as a designer in 2020. Did the two of you have any anxieties or worries about working together?

T: Nope, no anxieties for me so far. We’re used to working with each other since college, and we bring out the best in each other. I think if anything changed, [it’s] all in a positive way.

C: I’m gonna be honest, yes I was a bit anxious. I know myself, and I know that I’m a different person when I'm in a relationship, versus when I’m at work as a creative. I was also a bit worried that our personal life might overlap with my professional life, and I might not be able to handle it well. I was also thinking, what if there was a conflict of interest? Because Tim's my boyfriend, and suddenly he joined our agency. Will there be bias, or something? So we try to keep things as professional as possible now.

J: Did you guys put any boundaries in place to clearly delineate your work life and love life? Like just to make sure that there's no overlap? 

C: I told Tim before he started to minimize the PDA in our work group chat. [laughs] I know some people don't like that, and personally I also don't like PDA that much. So when we do PDA, we make it a point to keep it between ourselves.

J: So, how has your relationship changed ever since you both started working together?

T: I got to see a new side of Carissa. It’s nice to see her hard at work at an office setting, so my respect for her as a creative really grew.

C: For me, the time we spend together each day has increased significantly. I like it because for example, I no longer have to check up on Tim to see if he’s eaten lunch, stuff like that. I also love seeing the ways Tim grows, like in terms of skills and time management, etc.

J: Okay! So next question: has working together made you see your SO in a new light?

C: For me, yes. I saw how much more creative Tim could be, and I saw how easily he gets along with people. Before we worked together, I didn’t really see how he worked with his former officemates. But even back then, he already got along really well with the Brevo team. So when he joined our agency, I fully saw just how well he can get along with new people.

J: Tim, how about you?

T: Well, I saw how different Carissa’s work environment was from where I used to work, and it made me appreciate how much hard work goes into producing actual design studio work. She inspired me to work even harder, seeing that she works way better than...

C: [laughs] Than who?

T: No I mean….as compared to my previous work environment, which was super chill.

C: Ahhh, okay.

T: So comparing that to how hard Carissa has to work daily, it inspired me to be more creative and work even harder.

J: Have you guys learned anything from each other since you started working together?

C: Hmm, what have I learned from Tim? [laughs] I guess I learned some technical stuff from him. At his previous job, he used to work on animation and video editing. So now, when I work on animation, I ask him for help. He helps me with exporting stuff, hotkeys, and other technical things.

J: So, time for the million-dollar question: do you think you can work in the same office as your SO? 

T: Yes.

C: Yeees.

T: Big yes.

C: As long as you both set clear boundaries, and you’re both okay with working together.

J: Do you have any advice for couples who find themselves with the opportunity to work together in the same office? 

T: Just don't mix up personal issues and work. It really affects your work process, and most likely you’ll end up not being able to focus on your tasks.

C: Very true. I'm not really the best at giving advice, but I agree with Tim—you really have to be able to separate your personal issues from your professional life. Like, you don't always have to be all work work work, or all love love love. There has to be a balance between the two. Also, enjoy the time that you have together!

Have you been resisting the urge to leave home and head to a cafe and catch up with your friends? If so, kudos for helping flatten the curve! Of course, steering clear of restaurants and pubs may be the wise choice, but it can also affect your social life. What other socially distant option do we have to see our friends but the dreaded Zoom call?

Thankfully, there are a few things we can do to spice up our con-call catch-ups without triggering workplace Zoom PTSD. Below, we list down a few activities to make video-call night with friends something to look forward to!

Teleparty

Missing weekend movie marathons with the gang? Or maybe you all just want to rewatch Game of Thrones together to remember what the point was? Here’s something to tide you over: Teleparty is a free Google Chrome extension that allows you to stream shows and films in sync with your friends. Available for Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, and HBO, it even comes with a little group chat box so you can all comment on the plot in real time.

Check out Netflix Party here.

Among Us

Following in the footsteps of Monopoly (aka the ultimate friendship wrecker), Among Us is essentially a game based on deceit: the better you are at lying, the more likely you are to win. Set in a spaceship setting, the goal is to return back home to Earth with your space crew alive. The twist? There’s an alien imposter aboard your ship determined to kill off the crew—and it’s up to you and your friends to find out who among you is the traitor.

Check out Among Us here.

Skribbl

If Pictionary is your friend group’s go-to for game night, you might just enjoy an online game of Skribbl. Unleash your inner Picasso as you attempt to doodle a variety of words and concepts, and have your friends guess what you’re drawing. The person with the most correct guesses wins! Sounds like a piece of cake? Think again: have you ever wondered how to draw the word “forgiveness?”

Check out Skribbl here.

JeopardyLabs

If you’ve been looking for a fun twist to your humdrum group trivia night, and/or have been wanting to channel your inner Alex Trebek, here’s your chance! JeopardyLabs gives you free access to a wide database of over two million Jeopardy games, with topics ranging from history, pop culture, to world capitals. The best part? You can even create your own personalized Jeopardy game—perfect for when you want to test your buddies on how well they remember your group’s inside jokes.

Check out JeopardyLabs here.

Drink Talk Learn

An ingenious twist to your typical drinking game: a drunk PowerPoint party. Created by four engineering students from the University of Waterloo, Drink Talk Learn’s rules are simple: Create and present a three-minute PowerPoint presentation about, well, anything. If you go over the time limit, you have to finish your drink and resume your lecture. The viral game is more than an excuse to break out the alcohol—it’s also a great way to learn new things and share your passions. And let’s face it, we might as well put those months of Zoom presentation skills to use, right?

Learn more about Drink Talk Learn here.

Despite the pandemic, your friendships can still stay strong. With these online games, enjoy quality time with your buds the fun-filled (and most importantly, socially-distant) way!

Who knew that the silver screen can sub in for your trusted career counselor? Long a favorite trope of Hollywood, office-based comedies are not only hilarious and entertaining—if you pay close enough attention, you’ll find that they’re filled with incredibly insightful lessons about surviving and thriving in the workplace.

Below, we list down a few of our favorite office movies and the career truths we’ve learned from them. Let us know your favorite picks in the comments!

The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

Synopsis: Fresh out of university, the young and naive Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) enters the fast-paced world of fashion magazines as an assistant to the high-powered Runway editor-in-chief Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep). As she learns how to meet Miranda’s increasingly demanding standards, Andy is forced to confront just how far she’s willing to go  and what she’s willing to sacrifice to climb the career ladder.

Takeaway: You are not your job.

Underneath the chic costumes and the hilariously bitchy quips, The Devil Wears Prada is at its core a film about work-life balance. In a world where we tend to get carried away in the hustle of the rat race, sometimes it’s good to remind yourself of your personal values and the things that truly matter. Remember: your job doesn’t define your worth.

Morning Glory (2010)

Synopsis: Aspiring television producer Becky (Rachel McAdams) finally gets her big break as the head producer of DayBreak, a struggling morning talk show. Armed with guts and a fresh perspective, she soon breathes new life into the show with millennial-forward talking points and out-of-the-box viral segments.

Takeaway: Think outside the box.

Don’t be afraid to bring new ideas to the table! To achieve true success, sometimes you have to work beyond the limits of how things are done and explore how it can be done. Feeling stuck in a career slump? Try approaching your workload from a totally different point-of-view.

Working Girl (1988)

Synopsis: When ambitious secretary Tess (Melanie Griffith) finds out that her boss Katherine (Sigourney Weaver) has been stealing her ingenious business ideas, she decides to take matters into her own hands. With a new business-ready makeover, she sets out to impersonate the out-of-town Katherine and land a merger that could fast-track her career.

Takeaway: Take initiative.

You know what they say: a rolling stone gathers no moss. It won’t bode well for anyone to just sit back and wait for success to come to your feet—instead, actively find ways to achieve your career goals. Of course, breaking into your boss’ apartment and helping yourself to her closet of designer clothes is totally illegal, but you get our drift.

Horrible Bosses (2011)

Synopsis: Fed up with the constant stream of abuse they’re forced to put up with, financial executive Nick (Jason Bateman), dental assistant Dale (Charlie Day), and account manager Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) hire a hitman to assassinate their bosses. Hilarious hijinks ensue.

Takeaway: Find a strong support system.

We’re obviously not suggesting you attempt to murder your misbehaving boss—felonies are always an absolute no-no. But when the going gets tough, it helps to have a few friends in the office to commiserate with. Surround yourself with positive-minded coworkers who support and uplift you. They’ll come in handy the next time you flunk a presentation or miss a deadline.

The Intern (2015)

Synopsis: Feeling bored and restless during retirement, 70-year-old Ben (Robert de Niro) applies as a “senior” intern to Jules (Anne Hathaway), the 30-year-old CEO of a fast-growing e-commerce company. The two soon forge a strong friendship, bonding over how they both find themselves in unexpected positions of success career-wise.

Takeaway: Don’t limit yourself.

Think you’re too young to establish your own company, or too inexperienced to land your dream job? Think again. Remember: you’re only as good as you believe you are. Start taking more chances and open yourself to opportunities you never would have considered for yourself. Sometimes, the best career boost you can get is to start believing in yourself.

As far as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to write. In my cringey pubescent years I filled countless journals with hastily scribbled fan fiction and angst-ridden recollections of the day. In the confusing turbulence of adolescence, there was one thing I was certain of: I loved telling stories.

This love for storytelling stuck when it came to picking a career path in university. Seduced by the sexy fast-paced world of Mad Men (then one of primetime TV’s hottest shows), I decided to enter advertising as a copywriter. I was enthralled by the way Don Draper would write a tight pitch, command a boardroom, and make a bunch of macho executives wimper with a tagline so filled with pathos and emotion — even if it was just to sell a line of disposable cameras. In my mind, I was confident that my destiny was to follow in Don’s footsteps.

That is, until I took my first university copywriting class. Now I never scored a bad grade in any of the class requirements, but I didn’t exactly excel either. When my works would merit a few appreciative nods and constructive criticism from my professor, he would shower others with heaps of praise and proclamations of their genius. Seeds of doubt began to take root in my head — maybe I was pursuing something I just wasn’t very good at?

So I settled for the next best thing. As an obnoxious stickler for organization, I decided I wanted to stay in advertising and become an accounts man. After all, I was notorious for planning over-detailed itineraries for family vacations. I convinced myself it was a perfect fit — pretty soon, as a student I landed an accounts internship at a big multinational ad agency. A year later, just two weeks after graduating I accepted a job offer as a junior accounts executive at another rising local ad agency.

Four months in, I knew something was off. On the surface, I had a great job: the office culture was warm and inviting, and my pay grade was more than sufficient for a fresh grad. Still, for some reason I found myself dreading coming into work every morning. I slowly began to realize that the accounts realm of client coordination and filing endless amounts of paperwork was maybe not for me.

Even then, there was one aspect of that job that I loved. On days before a client presentation, the team would reconvene and creatives would share their concepts with us accounts people. Watching them present incredibly ingenious ideas, I was spellbound — it was like seeing Don Draper work his magic in the flesh. More importantly, seeds of hope began to bloom inside me. Maybe, just maybe, I also had what it takes to become a creative?

A month later, I took a leap of faith and chose fulfillment over certainty. I quit my accounts job and found a gig as an editorial assistant for an online lifestyle publication. A year later, equipped with the publishing industry’s rigorous writing standards, I got a job at Brevo as a copywriter.

As cheesy as it sounds, often when it comes to major career decisions it pays to listen to your heart. Over the years I’ve learned that it is crucial to heed the call where you are needed, and where you feel needed. And hey, carpe diem — we only have one life to live, might as well do it happily!

This isn’t to say that upon getting the job of my dreams, I lived happily ever after. You know that saying that goes if you find a job you’ll love, you’ll never work a day in your life? Huge crock of rubbish. As with any other discipline, there was a steep learning curve that I worked hard to overcome. The big difference is now, when I come home after a long tiring day at work, I always feel proud of myself and each day’s little victories.

Landing the job of my dreams wasn’t a walk in the park, but it is where I feel truly fulfilled. I have no regrets. Through this journey, I learned the two most valuable lessons of my career to trust in your instincts, and to never let fear govern you.

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