Here's my take on whether or not the projects are going to be useful
in job hunting. It's a bit of a gamble and honestly they may not. On
the other hand, I certainly would take a portfolio as a very good sign
of a candidate in my own hunts. But realistically, the job market's
just too wild at the moment. It does seem to be smoothing out though.
Certainly I would run the portfolio by some systems people you really
respect and ask them to give an honest opinion. Such projects can be
revealing not just in a positive way but a negative one too. (And I
feel bad being negative, perhaps just blame it on a bad week. I've
seen very few portfolio's that detracted from my opinion of a
On the other hand though, personal experience, particularly well
supported through independent study and also discussion with others
gives a huge boost to your skills. I don't know if a candidate in
this job market can afford NOT to spend at least some personal time in
developing their skills. Perhaps in an ideal world perhaps school and
on-job training would cover all ground. If you can though, double-dip
and just take a course assignment to the next level or something like
In other words, such personal work probably won't greatly increase
your chances of beating out the competition, but without it likely
you're going to have a hard time making a good impression.
Of course, hopefully you enjoy this tech stuff so spending personal
time isn't too burdensome ;). But I understand, these days it seems
like I never have enough time to work on my "personal" geeky projects.
Sorry for the convoluted answer, hopefully it'll help. We can always
use more geeky librarians ;).