As someone who loves to code I think having personal projects is important. They don’t have to be complex or fancy, they just have to be yours. I have a few projects that I’ve used and maintained for over 7 years now, and it’s to the point that those codebases have outlived code I’ve written at work. These projects aren’t subject to business needs, deadlines, competing egos and priorities. They are just projects that are a joy to work on to meet my needs. I don’t think professional software developers should be required to have a portfolio to be employable, but in the modern technology industry I do think personal projects help keep us sane.