Just read a piece by Michael Kamber of Kamberphoto.com over on LightStalkers that’s well worth a read for all sorts of photographers, not just young ones:
Advice for young photographers:
10 June, 07
I am writing this from the Baghdad bureau of The New York Times where I am on assignment.
I have received dozens of queries from photojournalists starting out in the business. I am writing this in response, partly so I can refer others to it in the future and not spend time on lengthy replies.
Some beginners ask for advice on gear, others on how to get started finding assignments and selling their work. I will describe my own path into photojournalism here and give some general advice that may be useful.
This is not definitive in any way. It is simply my experience and opinion formulated from twenty years experience as a photojournalist. No doubt others can weigh in and improve this with their comments and ideas.