Fresh Out of College, Fresh Off the Press
Coming from a long lineage of doctors, Kristen Thometz 24, stepped out of a family business to follow her passion.
As a high school senior, Thometz’s father hired her as a shadow employee at a hospital. It was here that Thometz gained quick medical knowledge and led her to realize it was not the field for her.
“I thought it was all very interesting,” Thometz said. “But I didn’t really enjoy it.”
Originating from the Chicago suburb Orland Park, she found Loyola University Chicago’s proximity to downtown and home to be a perfect mix. Thometz entered Loyola’s School of Communication with an undecided major. This undecided major changed after taking a class taught by one of Loyola’s most dynamic professors, Beth Konrad.
“After taking that class and seeing [Konrad’s] passion for journalism, it really inspired me to know that is what I wanted to do,” Thometz said.
Thometz’s next critical move was to gain real-world journalism experience. She did so through three distinguished internships in Chicago. The first of these three opportunities was at the Windy Citizen news website. It was here that she learned to enterprise her own stories and find interesting angles to hyper-local news.
The second of her internships was with Mark Saxenmeyer at Fox News Chicago. This opportunity prepared her for the third of these internships, which was at ABC 7 with Karen Meyer. By working with a reporter who focuses on issues surrounding people with disabilities, Thometz was exposed to stories that were harder to handle.
“This is the one experience that helped me a ton in my future positions,” Thometz said, referencing dealing with stories of a sensitive nature.
After majoring in journalism with a focus on broadcast, she took three summer months off before applying to jobs. In October 2011, she was offered three different positions. She accepted an offer at 22nd Century Media, a company with over a dozen hyper-local newspapers in the Chicago area.
Her first position was working as an assistant editor for The Orland Park Prairie and The Tinley Junction newspapers.Thometz moved from assistant editor to editor of the Lockport Legend newspaper. In August 2012, she became the sole decision maker for the free mail-delivered newspaper that has a circulation of over 1,200 homes and businesses.
After becoming the editor, her responsibilities expanded dramatically.
“The pressure is exciting and frightening at the same time,” Thometz said.
As editor of the Lockport Legend, she is responsible for the entire paper. She manages the stories covered, writes a majority of the material herself and hires freelance writers, photographers and design artists.
Thometz said the best part of her job is being able to choose what is covered. Writing over a dozen articles a week, Thometz has a job she said she will stick with until she has nothing left to learn.
“Most days I can say it doesn’t feel like work to me,” Thometz said. “It feels like I am doing something I love.”