The Web Development field puts an insane amount of value into personal projects. Yes, insane.
I actually see it from both the "Yay personal projects!" and "but I have other hobbies..." sides, and I see value in both views. Personal projects are great, I have a few myself. But I don't think their necessary.
Let's make a Pros/Cons list! Because who doesn't like lists?
Learning - Personal projects are an amazing tool to learn a new language, brush up on a language you haven't touched in a while... I'm a strong believer in learning by doing, and personal projects are a great time to try out something new! They give you time to make mistakes, fix mistakes, and generally figure everything out without someone leaning over you or a looming deadline on the horizon.
Creativity - A personal project is just that - personal! You control everything, from the design to what languages you use to how you want to implement it. It's a place you can go crazy with creativity and make it exactly how you want it!
Fun - Hopefully, you enjoy doing it. At least generally. If you don't enjoy doing it, I see no reason why you should waste your personal time on it. But personal projects can be so much fun, and if you love it then seriously, do it.
Filling a Hole - Wouldn't it be amazing to have an app that is exactly what you want and need in life? Guess what - you can make it! Why not? Then, in the end, you have exactly what you want, with the satisfaction of having made it yourself.
Show Your Work - Companies like to see things. They do. They like nice, big portfolios, and a Github with lots of recent commits. So, that can be important. I honestly don't put as much pressure behind this point, because I think all the other points are more important. This is just a nice little add-on.
Time - God, I wish there were more hours in the day. For everything. And sometimes, we just don't have enough hours to work on personal projects. And that's 100% okay. Sometimes we want to spend our time doing other things, and that's okay too! Which leads me too...
Hobbies - We all have hobbies that aren't related to Development, and those should have a place in our lives too! We shouldn't just ignore them to spend all of our professional and personal time coding/designing/whatever it is you do. Because if we do, we get...
Burnout - Yep. Burnout. It's not fun, you don't want it, and sometimes personal projects can be part of the problem. If you come home from an 8 hour day at work just to sit down and code more, you might eventually burnout. Which sucks.
Hate - Kind of similar to burnout, but there's the likelihood you'll end up hating your projects. If you work on it for so long, and it just doesn't want to work out right, you'll eventually start hating it and dreading it. And who wants to spend time doing something they hate? Not me.
So, just so we're all clear, these are just my thoughts on personal projects. They can be extremely beneficial, but I would never consider them necessary to being a good developer.
And now, it's your turn. Give me your opinions! Try and convince me I'm wrong! I hope the comments can be a great place for discussion.
See you down there!