Answered by John, Hiring Expert at DuPont, on Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Great question! This is an area that many recent studies and articles have tried to address.
I believe the answer changes based on the company and the role, but here is a partial list based on what my company has experienced:
(1) professional experience through an internship or cooperative education experience - the best way to learn how to work at a company is to do it. By having this experience before you graduate, you develop a much better understanding of how to keep regular hours, how to communicate in a corporate environment, etc.
(2) problem solving skills - many problems students are given in high school/college are well bounded (details are clear and there is a specific answer). In real life, many times this is not the case. There is a learned skill in defining a problem, gathering information required to solve it, utilizing available resources, and making recommendations in a sometimes very ambiguous environment.
(3) working in and adapting to diverse teams - you may work on a number of projects while in school with students in your degree/major, but the work environment sometimes requires very diverse teams to come together to work on a project. The ability to adapt to very different perspectives is an often necessary skill to have.
Hope this helps.