Illinois State University offers over 400 student organizations to get involved in and hundreds of events every year along with its robust offering of academic programs. Knowing where to begin and which opportunities are best can be a challenge for students.

Launched in fall 2021, Bird Tracks provides students a starting point as they begin their journey at Illinois State, change their major, or begin their search for internships and full-time positions. Bird Tracks is a two-pronged tool, which consists of a skillset assessment and an involvement resource website. The assessment will help students determine where they are with regard to 27 different skillsets; these include things like resourcefulness, critical thinking, leadership, and more. The purpose of the assessment is to give students areas where they can grow, clarification on their strengths, and help determining where they might want to focus their attention and resources moving forward.

Once students complete the skillset assessment, they receive their personalized results within 24 hours. The report notes individual and collective scores in five key areas: relationship building, professional identity and behavior, broadening of perspective, problem solving, and autonomy.

“You don’t just take it and then you’re done,” said Dr. Erin Thomas, director of advancement and assessment for the Division of Student Affairs. “You actually get something back, and that’s really powerful. Bird Tracks helps you better understand who you are.”

An example of the skillset report students receive summarizing their skill sets in the five key areas.
An example of the skillset report students will receive.

The second element of Bird Tracks is the involvement resource site. The website allows students to search for campus events, opportunities, and even jobs by filtering their skills, availability, or preferred incentives (i.e. food, certifications, money, etc.). Bird Tracks can assist students in making the best choice possible given the report they receive and the clarity gained through sorting and searching experiences by skill on the Bird Tracks website.

For students are already invested in their majors, they can use their strengths and areas for growth in the interview process for internships and jobs. Thomas said that when students know their strengths and can readily talk about them during an interview, it is something that sets them apart from other applicants.

Bird Tracks was designed for students to answer questions based on their own personal experiences. Thomas was intentional in making sure students could pull from their own authentic backgrounds, allowing them to evaluate what they have gained from previous experiences and determine where they might be headed next. Additionally, students can complete the Bird Tracks skillset assessment up to two times per year, allowing them to track their growth and progress over time.

“This is going to provide some clarity and certainty amidst everything else that’s going on,” Thomas shares. “I know for so many students, they’re overwhelmed or managing a lot. Truly anything that we can do to help students reduce some of that is my ultimate goal. To me, it’s a tool to figure out who you are, have guidance on where to go next, and then feel really good about your decisions.”

In addition to completing Bird Tracks, Thomas also encourages students to reach out to their career counselors, academic advisors, supervisors, mentors, and others throughout their time at Illinois State to help them achieve their goals during their studies and beyond.

For more information on Bird Tracks, visit