What do we do as newcomers? How do we make sense of all of the information out there? How do I get involved if I'm not an academic, and I don't have "career experience" to fall back on? I've just published a blog post about some of my impressions as a newcomer to EA. (Though I don't know if I answer any of these questions very well, because I don't know if I have the answers yet.)
Hi Danielle, welcome! I really enjoyed reading your blog post – it seems like you have a skill for communicating clearly, and I'd love to read more of your writing as you keep thinking more about EA :)
One thing you can do as you learn more is to try and crystallize what cruxes you have for your beliefs. Talking about cruxes is a common way EAs communicate, as it can help people avoid talking past each other and instead focus primarily on the things that would change each other's minds.
My take is that it's much more valuable to spend time early on thinking about your values and what you think the most important problems are, compared to finding an EA-relevant job quickly (because there are compelling cases for a lot of cause areas, and you might find that you change your mind about what path you want to pursue).
In terms of getting connected, you could try going to a meetup in your city (if there is one). Some people enjoy their city EA groups, others don't as much. EAGs and EAGx's can also be good places to meet people who share your interests. Yes, many groups use Facebook to coordinate, but I think there is less significant community discussion on FB than there used to be.
Hope this helps and good luck!