Austin Helms is a 2016 graduate of UNC. His new book, Orientation to Graduation, was written during his time at Carolina. Helms will be signing copies of his book in the Pit on June 14 at noon, and he will also appear on WCHL radio at 8:30 a.m. that day. Staff Writer Sara Pequeño spoke with Helms about his unique experiences and how he's helped others gain a sense of what college is really like.
The Daily Tar Heel: What inspired you to write this book?
Austin Helms: It was never in my vision to write a book, it was just something I was going to do for fun. I wanted to write through the college process. Through my research, I couldn’t find a book written by a college student in real time about the college experience. So I got to UNC and kept writing about my new experiences — random roommate, how to get involved, etc. I became a tour guide on campus and made business cards with my blog on them, and that’s when I got really motivated — through the students I would give my card to on my tours. They would message me and tell me “Austin, this is really helping me. This is the kind of stuff I’m going through.” So I kept writing about anything and everything, from temptations in college to what to major in, studying abroad, traveling abroad, all these different things.
DTH: And you wrote this entire thing while you were in college?
AH: Yeah! It was a month-by-month thing, so just dependent. Some months I would write multiple chapters, some months I would just write one. And they’re about a ton of different things — how to set goals, etc. My writing definitely got better over time. It started with all of my excitement freshman year, to sophomore year, applying to the business school, to junior year and yeah. Then it got all compiled, and then my editor kind of rocked my world and told me to rewrite it.