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News . Feature Stories . Life Sciences Illustration student interns virtually in the Caribbean

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March 07, 2022

Life Sciences Illustration student interns virtually in the Caribbean

Junior Caitlin Guttu is working for the Center for BioMedical Visualization at St. George’s University.

Caitlin Guttu ’23 created this piece at CIA, but she says it’s similar to her internship work at St. George’s University because it’s meant to communicate a complex scientific topic to a specific audience.

By Michael C. Butz

The pandemic has forced a lot of change, including in higher education. An example? Due to COVID restrictions, the Center for BioMedical Visualization at St. George’s University in Grenada created a new virtual internship program.

That’s a good thing. What makes it better is that in only the program’s second year, CIA student Caitlin Guttu secured one of the coveted positions as a Biomedical Visualization Intern. She started in January, and the internship ends in late April.

We caught up with the Life Sciences Illustration junior and Mentor, Ohio native to ask about her experience.

This internship sounds really cool. What does it entail? What are you working on? How have you liked it?
This internship is a really cool experience and I have been enjoying it a lot! St. George’s University is a renowned center for international education in Grenada, West Indies. Because of COVID, this internship is remote, but I still feel I am part of the team and community. The team consists of a melting pot of artists from around the world. It is so rewarding to work with unique people who have different perspectives on art and the world. My internship coordinator, Farihah, shares with me what the island culture is like in Grenada, giving me a sense of what it is like to live there since I can’t experience it firsthand.

This internship entails attending weekly meetings and completing projects for the Biology, Ecology, and Conservation Department at SGU. The team is very open to sharing their expertise as Biomedical Illustrators and are planning to teach me software, such as Cinema 4D and Zbrush. I am currently finishing up my final draft of a river continuum concept, which depicts three sections of a river and the invertebrates that live in each section. My work provides faculty with supportive educational materials to help with long-term retention of course material and enhance student learning.

What opportunities has the internship afforded you so far that you might not have otherwise had?
First and foremost, this opportunity has offered me valuable experience outside of the classroom. I have been learning how to work collaboratively with a team and manage projects with clients, as well as learning new techniques and building upon current skills like graphic design and professionalism.

What are the biggest things you’ve learned so far?
Having a strong work ethic is crucial, especially when working as a part of a team and having clients that rely on receiving projects by a certain deadline. Also, having flexibility and being willing to apply changes to projects, even when I think the project is almost complete.

In what ways have your CIA professors and/or classmates helped prepare you for this opportunity?
A big part of this internship is valuing and being receptive to feedback from peers and experts in this field. I feel that the critiques I have had at CIA have really prepared me to appreciate and acknowledge that feedback is important to producing high-quality work.

How did this internship come to be? How were you connected with this opportunity?
I heard about this internship through the chair of the Life Sciences Illustration Department, Tom Nowacki. When I heard about what this opportunity entailed, I was over the moon. I envision myself doing exactly this type of work as a career, and living on an island in the Caribbean sounds like a pretty awesome bonus.

What’s one piece of advice you'd offer others who are seeking internships?
If you see an opportunity, go after it. And if it doesn’t work out, you’ll gain so much from just applying and making connections. Also, pursue your passion. If the passion is there, the rest will come. Trusting in the process, and not always thinking about the final destination, is key.


What are your plans after your expected graduation from CIA in 2023? How might this internship be helping you make that decision?
After graduation, I plan to pursue my graduate degree in scientific illustration. This internship has presented me with an idea of what I want my career to look like: one that works alongside talented, fun and down-to-earth people with the same passions as me.

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