I came to the comments specifically to say something similar. While I generally recommend students do things outside their core coursework to differentiate themselves, it's a double-edged sword because there's a level of privilege that is required (and the more you have of it, the more time you have to spend on side projects...)
Making it a requirement (whether explicitly or not) is almost up there with unpaid internships - students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds can't always take opportunities and the advantage gap widens for reasons that have nothing to do with skill or passion.
Requiring side projects of experienced devs is just unrealistic. Once you've had demanding jobs for a few years you may no longer have time, let alone energy, for meaningful side projects. Add into that that age dictates we're more likely to be parents or caring for aging parents, and suddenly I'm reminded of why there's still a low number of women in technical roles - but aside from that it starts sounding like we expect both men and women to have no life outside of work even when they have 10 years' professional experience.
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