|Getting started in video is not always easy.|
In most markets there are different avenues to gain experience. But as I mentioned in Video Services Provided for Free, giving away your work for zero compensation is never a good idea. Donating your services to a charitable organization is something altogether different.
A great place to look for experience when just starting out in a video career is your Local Access TV station. Most communities have one and they usually offer free access to gear and training. In a lot of cases, the gear is pretty state-of-the-art. If you volunteer, it's a great place to build your skills in all aspects of the video production process.
It's important to tailor your skills to the needs of your local area. In my local market, most companies use the Avid Media Composer editing system. Adobe Premiere Pro is a close second with Apple Final Cut Pro trailing just after that. I even worked at one company where Sony Vegas was part of the workflow, but it was used more for rough utility work. The finished work was done on a networked Avid Media Composer system.
Your market may be different in respect to what is the editing system of choice. The important thing is not to put all of your eggs (skills) in one basket. The more tools you know, the more easily you can jump into that next job. Also, depending on your local market, a good question to ask might be: Is Being Just a Video Editor Enough? Sometimes, it's important to learn other related crafts in order to strengthen your core discipline.
The key is to stay busy using your skill set, whether volunteering or working on your own personal projects. I believe that Creative Professionals Learn By Doing - if you continue to push yourself, you develop a unique style of your own. The more projects you work on, the more comfortable you become with the tools and the grammar of video (see also How to Become a Video Editor).
It's important to know what tools are used in your market. This may take a little bit of research, but it's worth the effort. Check out video-related job postings in your area, or go to the editing facility websites to see what most use as their editing system. Matching your skill set to the local market is one of the keys to getting your first gig.