for this career you definitively need contacts to achieve a good job. I really like it however this industry is very competitive and most of the times you need to have a contact.
My recommendation is try to meet as much people as possible in order to start working in the industry and don't feel disappointed.
This career is the best! And you need to learn what's new, what are the trendy topics, in order to be above everybody.
Hope this helps
As a young musician , I was very curious about recording electronic machinery and had a mentor who was a physics teacher and took me under his wing and explained what all the knobs are for etc. A win win because I bought my first 2 Zoll analogue 16 track recorder from him shortly after that. I tried all sorts , long days and nights and picked up tips and information from all around...
I am a sound engineer as a side hustle and consider myself semi-professional. As in I make money doing it but it is not my main means of income. I started off as a DJ and was invited "to run the board' as i was going to be standing next to the mixer. I began to learn about what it actual was and it was like a pandora box! I loved all the aspects about it. From running the mic cables to actually running the sound for the band and seeing the whole crowd enjoying the music! It was that invisible power to control what they heard and it was awesome!
Go to a show and actually find the person running the board and watch the magic. Before the show or after approach them and just get to know them. Most of us are approachable. Hey that sounded great! is a great conversation starter for us.