After graduating with a BA in English, Hannah Swerling, 36, threw herself into the deep end of the industry. Twelve years later, she is deputy editor of Sunday Times Style having worked at some of the largest magazines in the UK. “Contacts and work experience are crucial in this industry,” she tells Chloe Weldon.

How did you get into journalism?

After university, I had placements at Cosmo and The Independent on Sunday. I spent nine months interning at every magazine I could, including Red and Glamour, and eventually wound up at Elle doing a paid internship. Once you start doing placements and meeting people in the industry, you’re an insider. Jobs aren’t advertised as transparently as other industries and there is a lot of word of mouth. I have been in this industry for 12 years and still to this day, I build relationships for future positions.

How long did you work at Elle?

Ten years. I became the editorial assistant and PA to the editor and climbed up the ladder to content director, working across the digital team as well. Now I work for The Sunday Times Style across the whole magazine – fashion, beauty and features – and support the editor with content decisions.

Do you have a hands-on role in the production of Style?

I write all heads and standfirsts, do the flatplanning, work out what goes into each issue and how editorial content interacts with advertising, making sure there are no visual clashes. I manage each department ensuring we’re getting the best exclusives, commissioning the best writers like Dolly Alderton, and using the top photographers like Nathaniel Goldberg.

What is your average day like?

Fast-paced. It’s a mixture of meetings and copy editing. It’s my job to shepherd everyone into filing their copy and getting their work in by the deadline, edit page proofs and generally check everything as the issue comes together.

What is the best aspect?

I’m a features person at heart so I love coming up with ideas and discussing them with my team. It’s a joy being able to commission great writers and to discover new ones.

And the worst?

The less exciting elements like balancing budgets and thinking about commercial because that’s what makes you the money.

The idea of something carefully created and considered, beautiful fashion shoots and thoughtful writing will always have a place

Do you think there is a future for print?

I do, yes! It would be foolish to deny things are changing drastically, but magazines aren’t going to disappear tomorrow. I think strategies will change and magazines may be different to what we’re used to, but the idea of something carefully created and considered, beautiful fashion shoots and thoughtful writing will always have a place in print.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

To not get too obsessed with status and job title. Work hard, eventually things will come to you and if you’re valued by your team and by your manager, that counts for more than a sexy job title that might be meaningless.

And any tips for trainee journalists?

You have to be an ideas person and you can’t be too proud about the kind of work you’re meant to do. It’s about being hungry enough not to be too precious about the jobs you’re given. You’re not going to walk into your dream job, you’re going to create it over time.