Hi Michael! Welcome to BP,
My advice would be to intern or shadow someone already doing the work you're mentioning. I found my mentor during my schooling and now that person is my business partner.
Have you thought about going into sales? That skilled is used in every aspect of real estate investing ... if you plan on scaling ... 50 properties or more.
@Michael Newman No, I mean advanced sales training like the programs at Cardone University.
I'm in a similar situation as you are (just starting out). I've always wanted to be involved in Real Estate but my life journey took a different turn. Currently, I'm looking to find a job in the Real Estate field while working on my financial freedom. I attend a regular real estate Meetup groups and have connected with someone that is a Property Manager and she thinks it is one of the good ways to start in the business if I plan on owning my own properties. I just started applying for jobs in that field with hopes of getting some type of response.
I'm also taking my real estate license class not so much as selling it, but also learning the basics of the industry. I do plan on taking the real estate exam when I'm done and holding my license as passive while looking to invest. The other good reason to have a Real estate license is if you are a Property Manager and lease units you also may be entitled to extra compensation while collecting a paycheck (for now) and gaining experience.
So I would suggest getting involved with local real estate Meetup groups and real estate clubs for networking, maybe obtain a real estate license in your area and keep using Bigger Pockets for resources. I drive long distances for my work and usually listen to the BP Podcasts! I started from the very first show a few weeks ago and I'm now up to Podcast 33! So instead of music radio switch to Bigger Pockets Podcasts!
@Michael Newman ideally your W-2 job would serve dual purposes, both focused on your passion... 1) build capital and establish credit worthiness with which to pursue your passion, and 2) give you experience in a career you're passionate about. Going into a Finance-related field certainly fits both those. FYI, I went into Accounting and as I've ventured down the REI path that financial & business background has been invaluable. Your other stated alternative is Property Management, but while it may satisfy the 2nd purpose I highly doubt there's enough money to satisfy the 1st. Being a little biased :) I'd recommend continuing with Accounting & Finance. Maybe a finance-related position with a company in the real estate space like a construction company or a bank / mortgage company. Just a couple quick thoughts. Best of luck to you!