UCC Physics Graduate Profiles

Vince McCarthy, Co-founder & CEO of The Festival of Curiosity

1 Jul 2019

"I would never have assumed doing a Physics degree could provide these opportunities and UCC gave me the ability to create a pathway through life that has been varied and unexpected."

Current job title: 

Co-founder & CEO of The Festival of Curiosity 


What appeals to you most about your current role?

I am currently the CEO of The Festival of Curiosity which is a job that I never would have predicted I would be in when I studied in UCC. The aspect of the role that appeals to me the most is working with very interesting people from a variety of backgrounds including science, arts and design. 


Course/subjects studied in UCC and year of graduation:

I studied Physics and Mathematics (Joint Honours) and graduated in 2004. 


What influenced or helped you decide to study this degree?

I attended the UCC Open Day in 1999/2000 and saw the potential of a Physics degree so I knew it was for me. 


Most relevant main or subsidiary topic studied:

Even though I wanted to study Physics I ended up selecting a joint degree with Maths which helped me with my Physics and added a lot of variety to my four years in UCC.


Best memory of UCC:

I have a lot of good memories of UCC. I remember being at the Lower Grounds during the usual sunny weather at exam time, taking a break with friends. I really enjoyed my course and I was very lucky to have a great group of friends, who made my time in UCC very memorable.


What role do you feel UCC played in getting you to where you are today?

My time in UCC has been the main platform in my life to get to where I am now. My course in Physics and Maths opened up a lot of opportunities, including working in Mozambique with the Department of Foreign Affairs and being the Curator for Dublin City of Science in 2012. I would never have assumed doing a Physics degree could provide these opportunities and UCC gave me the ability to create a pathway through life that has been varied and unexpected. 


Brief overview of work history (to highlight the path to where you are now):

I have worked in a variety of roles after university and had great opportunities to work on developing science and technology projects in Mozambique with Irish Aid; become a team member on a startup youth mental health and technology organisation; and become the Curator for the Dublin City of Science 2012 which engaged 600,000 people across the country. 

I then setup The Festival of Curiosity which is Dublin’s international festival of science, arts, design and technology with an audience of over 50,000 people every year. 

I am also the Chair of the International School of Dublin, President of the Ireland United States Alumni Association, Director of the European Network of American Alumni Associations and on the Board of Directors of Respond Housing Association 


What advice would you give to current students that are about to graduate/enter the job market?

When I think back to my time in UCC, I suppose it would have been good to understand that the skills I learned in UCC were just as important as the subject matter. It is important to do well at exams, but focussing on developing your social and soft skills can make you more adaptable for whatever future career path you take. 


Do you feel there are any major gaps in your education which should be filled for future students?

If I had the chance to do my degree in UCC over again, I would meet as many people as I could who are working in different roles and industries. I think more opportunities should be created to meet alumni from various backgrounds to give a realistic view of what’s possible and help identify pathways to success.  


Any links to work profiles / LinkedIn etc you would like to share:

Website: www.festivalofcuriosity.ie

Twitter: https://twitter.com/vincemccarthy

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vincent-mc-carthy-7305669/



Department of Physics

Roinn na Fisice

Room 213 (Physics Office), 2nd floor, Kane Science Building, University College Cork, Ireland.,