On this episode, we’re joined by Idaho Capital Sun reporter Mia Maldonado, one of the initial success stories for the Voces Internship Program of Idaho, which aims to place Latino/Latina students in Idaho newsrooms. Idaho is a more diverse state than you probably think, but you wouldn’t know it by newsroom employee demographics. Voces is trying to change that.

Mia has also worked as a breaking news reporter for the Idaho Statesman. We talked with her about the reporting she’s done and her career path. The conversation was instructive for future journalists.

You can listen to it here. And read some of the excerpts below.

1)You don’t have to follow a traditional path

Mia never took a college journalism class. She majored in Spanish and International Political Economy at the College of Idaho, from which she graduated in 2022.

“I loved writing. I knew I wanted to study something that allowed me to learn more about the world and so I was looking for a job that would allow me to do that, a job that would allow me to connect with people, something that would change every day and something that I would enjoy.”

During the pandemic, Mia was inspired by watching Vice News videos online. It got her interested in being a journalist. Then she found the Voces program, applied, and got an internship assignment.

2)Be willing to learn about anything

Mia had no familiarity with what a competency hearing was prior to covering local court cases in which competency was oft brought up. She learned quickly by asking questions from her co-workers

She described the process of learning the unfamiliar as intimidating but worthwhile.

“One of the things I love about this job is that it forces me to learn things that are outside my comfort zone. I think the key to learning things on the fly is to just ask your co-workers questions.”

3)Be open to stories that impact you in unusual ways

“One of the most fulfilling stories was a story I wrote about prison dogs. It was about a local animal shelter that would place a few dogs at the Idaho Department of Corrections in Boise. The inmates would train these dogs for a few months … they would be released back to the animal shelter and put up for adoption. The prisoners were telling me that … having this program gives us a purpose.”

Mia was so inspired by hearing the prisoners talk that she adopted a dog.

You can listen to our full conversation with Mia and Voces co-founder Ximena Bustillo here.