The article examines the relationship between work experience during higher education and employment outcomes in four European countries: Italy, Spain, Germany and Norway. In the first part a theoretical framework clarifies the reason why in some institutional contexts work experience during the University constitutes a ‘competitive advantage’ for young graduates. The empirical analysis - based on the surveys Reflex and Cheers - examine the effects of work experience (which account both the duration and the consistency with respect to the course of study) on different employment outcomes after 4-5 years of the degree. The empirical results show that in Italy and Spain having a job during the University is associated with better employment outcomes after the period of study: any kind of work experience increases the probability of being employed and reduces the risk of unemployment, while only work experiences consistent with the course of studies reduce the risk of being overeducated. In Germany and Norway instead, having a job during the University has no substantial effects in terms of employment outcomes.
Keywords: Student employment, work experience, labour market transition, undergraduates’ employment, higher education