I told my trainees: Nothing you do counts until it goes into production.
Henry had something in production with one user. Great example.
When I was interviewing people, I looked for initiative and accomplishments.
I was assigned one trainee who was getting a Masters in MIS (Management Information Systems). I had him fired after two weeks because he could not understand an IF-Then-Else statement. Book-learning only goes so far.
See my article about initiative: