Question: How can I get a feel for some of the career areas I'm interested in?
The best way to get a feel for a particular career area is to actually spend time in it. This means getting an internship, a part-time job, or volunteering in the particular area you're after.
Coming by these kinds of opportunities, though, requires resourcefulness on your part. You'll have to network to find openings. Start asking people you know who either work in these areas (or know someone who does) what you have to do to get "inside" the operation.
You can also get a feel for certain career areas by going to the library and checking out the numerous books that deal with professions. The World-Wide Web should also be on your list of places to check. As with all Web expeditions, start with the search engine and look for "careers" or "occupations" and you'll probably find more information than you could possibly absorb in a week of hard study.
My personal opinion, though, is that there's nothing like the real thing when it comes to career experience. One week of actually working a job will teach you more than a month of reading about it. That's why your networking is so important. Usually intern-like jobs are not advertised.
They are created spontaneously whenever someone such as yourself starts to make inquiries and does a convincing job selling their ideas about working.
Even if you cannot convince anyone to let you work in your areas of interest, you may be able to merely spend some time observing what people in those careers do. Again, if you can make a contact with someone inside an area that motivates you, there may be a chance you could get permission to observe what goes on if you promise to stay out of the way. This could lead to a part-time opportunity or even to an internship.
Be creative if you want hands-on experience, or take a more conservative approach, staying with research. The choice is yours.