Want to Be a gangster? Go join a gang. Want to be a whore, find a pimp, want to be a corpie, apply to a corp, want to be a media star.. You get the point. It can be overwhelming at firs,t but you'll find many people Icly that can offer you advice.
Not all of it is good, but hey, that's the fun :)
Having played for just about three months now it's quite the interesting game and just when you think there's nothing to do you get shot in the face (literally or figuratively). As I saw in the other post, this is nothing like a graphical mmo, this isn't even like Zork (though it can be just as deadly). Think of it as like a second life (No not Second Life), a breathing, feeling, human being that has wants, desires, needs and dreams.
Be ready to live hard, party hard, and die even harder. Welcome to Sindome, welcome to Withmore, welcome to the swirling crush of 65 million people, and be safe out there ;)
Finding someone who is already established in the field you want your character to be in is definitely a good idea, ask them to mentor you ICly. Some will be reluctant, but don't think the player is just being a dick, it might just be how their character perceives things.
And always remember IC actions breed IC consequences. :P
I'll put it this way. Would you fly a helicopter without any sort of lesson first?
Roleplaying a pilot who had no lessons and who crashes and takes out a ghetto city block while meeting her own permanent end might be fun, and is not at all an invalid way to learn the game.
"Roleplaying-it", being the important part of this concept.
Yes, learning to survive is important, whether that means learning to conduct yourself in a way which lets you either avoid combat or have advantages (think: allies or resources) in combat. Whether a combat character or not, anyone can make RP decisions which risk permadeath.