Epictetus, The Coder
Show me what you have achieved so far. If you were an athlete, I would want to see your shoulders. Don’t tell me, “Look at all my training weights,” but show me your shoulders. Enough of you and your weights; show me what your weights have achieved. ~ Epictetus
Epictetus was a Greek Stoic philosopher born in AD 50. In recent years I've gotten into stoic philosophy which has had a profound impact on my outlook in life, and continues to do so in the most surprising of areas.
The above quote can be applied to coding, specifically developers starting their careers, trying to get their foot in the door, flashing - at first glance - impressive looking portfolios.
We are drowning in knowledge, and there are endless opportunities through code-along tutorials to create dozens of impressive looking projects to pad your profile. Many (and I'm not exempt from this), will eagerly hoover up this material and eagerly apply it to their own portfolio, with few deviations from the original.
The real test, as Epictetus suggests, is in what muscles (mental) were used.
We talk a good game. We point to our achievements. But these can be won with little or no effort.
The real test is in how much you actually tested yourself.
Did you push yourself? Did you break through any barriers?
The physical manifestation of that in Epictetus' scenario would be bigger muscles. Overcoming resistance and growing stronger week-in, week-out.
In coding, did you actually grasp the concepts that you wrote? Could you rewrite it without the hand-holding? Or did you blindly copy that which was laid out for you.
There's a huge difference.