The RSC as a Training Ground

Student Section

R. Devan Jensen

Devan Jensen ( is executive editor at the Religious Studies Center.

The Religious Studies Center (RSC) annually publishes ten to fifteen books, Religious Educator (three issues), Review magazine (two), and Studia Antiqua (two), with a robust website and social media presence. The source of RSC productivity is the effective mentoring of students.

Mentoring begins with tapping into the talented pool of BYU editing minors and design students. In turn, these amazing students are further refined and trained to become competitive professionals. The RSC has proven to be an effective gateway to high-demand internships at Church magazines, Church Publishing Services Department, BYU Magazine, and Joseph Smith Papers. During the past two years, about half the Church internships were filled by RSC editors or designers.

The RSC is a valuable training ground for future success. After graduation from BYU, many of these students have gone on to careers as editors, designers, social media experts, and writers. The following is a sampling of student comments about their RSC experiences:

Real-Life, Hands-on Experience

“My experience at the RSC has been by far the most valuable editing experience that I’ve had at BYU. There is no substitute for real-life, hands-on practice in the publishing field, and that’s exactly what the RSC offers its students. I also appreciated the variety of experience that was offered here. In addition to copyediting, proofing, etc., I also got to typeset an entire book, index a book, brainstorm titles, gain web experience, and do countless other things that I never expected to do at an editing job.”

—Shanna D’Avila, editing intern

“The Religious Studies Center greatly supplemented my editing classes with hands-on experience. Though I learned about things like courtesy to authors, style guides, and tone in my courses, I didn't understand them beyond their value as theories until I worked at the RSC. At the RSC, I developed skills in being detail oriented, precise, professional, and scholarly. I learned to love research and work as a team, which greatly helped me as I started a new editing job after graduation. Above all, the RSC was an amazing environment, and I will both miss and greatly value the time I worked there, as well as the people I worked with.”

Austin Ballard, content editor at Boostability

Professional Training

“The Religious Studies Center has been an important part of my professional success. At the RSC I received professional job training while I was a student and was able to work on professional projects, which prepared me for employment as an editor after I graduated. Learning from professionals there was invaluable, and I was able to hone the skills I gained in class by working on real-world projects. In my editing work I have relied on the knowledge of the publishing process I gained at the RSC. I also made lifelong friends and associates there. I am incredibly grateful for all the RSC taught me.”

Elizabeth Pinborough, writer at Church Publishing Services Department

“I have greatly appreciated my time at the RSC. It has provided me a stable and flexible job that let me use and develop my skills and talents while I attended grad school. I have appreciated the opportunity to design and typeset books and to help out in other areas from file storage to workflow to the electronic articles project. I have also greatly appreciated the good people that I have worked with, both students and full-time staff, and the enduring friendships that I have formed here.”

—Jonathon Owen, associate editor, BYU Independent Study


“Working as an intern for the RSC was a fantastic experience professionally. The RSC is also set up to be a mentoring experience for the interns, and it does a great job of that. In many internships, the intern doesn’t do much and has a hard time feeling a part of the team or figuring out if they’re in the right field. At the RSC this really wasn’t a problem. I did a lot of editorial work, but wasn’t afraid to ask questions or learn as I went. I felt valued, necessary, and dedicated to doing my best, but I wasn’t stressed about not being good enough. I learned through instruction, observation, and experience. My coworkers were intelligent, insightful, hardworking, and fun, and I loved both working with them and talking with them.”

— McKenna Johnson, editor at KLAS

Designing Success

“In some companies, you’re expected to only understand your part and your part only, but at the RSC, we used interdependence and teamwork to get more done faster. This helped me intimately understand each part of the publishing process, from acceptance to distribution and everything in between. I was also trusted to finish large projects on my own, independent of the group, which gave me firsthand experience managing my time, taking responsibility for my work, and even coordinating with authors.”

—Alex Masterson, social media specialist at Entrata


“I am currently working as a senior editorial assistant at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., and I am loving it! I've just hit my two-year mark, and the more I learn, the more grateful I am for the foundation I received at BYU and the editing department at the Religious Studies Center. Learning to follow different style guides prepared me to quickly adopt a very specific editing style in my department. My experience with working in a team of editors at the RSC has also helped me appreciate and learn how to foster a high level of communication and collaboration in my current team, both in giving advice and receiving it. Through my work with various reports at the RSC, I learned how to send tactful queries to authors and how to work with them to solve questions, a skill I use every day in my current position. Most importantly, my proofreading and editing skills were sharpened through my internship, and I felt confident walking into this position, already familiar with the production process and editorial challenges I would face. I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunities my experience at the RSC has provided me in my professional career.”

—Rachel Taylor, senior editorial assistant at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC

Always Learning Something New

“At the RSC, I actually got to apply what I learned in my editing classes. Beyond that, I was able to take on new challenges, like interviewing professors, working with HTML, and creating an index. At other campus jobs, I clocked in, worked, and got my paycheck. At the RSC, I was always learning something new. With two years of real editing experience by graduation, I had no problem starting my career after college.”

—Nyssa Silvester, associate proposal writer, SirsiDynix

Studia Antiqua

“The experiences I gained as editor-in-chief of Studia Antiqua, BYU’s student journal for ancient studies, were invaluable training for the editing and publishing work that is so critical to my current employment. I wouldn't have my job without my time at the Religious Studies Center. I greatly value the training as well as the wonderful relationships I made working in a collaborative and faith-based environment.”

—Daniel O. McClellan, Scripture Translation Supervisor, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints