Many young capsuleers are eager for a life of combat, but rarely know how, where or when to get started. Some might join EVE University or take classes held by Agony Unleashed. Plenty seem to get discouraged before even their first trek to low sec, what with the hordes of seasoned pirates roaming New Eden's outback.
A few however are drawn to the outlaw lifestyle and are determined to set out on their own, mere weeks after acquiring their pilot license. Still, it's not a bad idea to ask for some guidance, which many experienced pilots gladly provide.
Besides recommendations for reading material, ships and fittings or good hunting grounds, their advice often revolves around one principle: "Go lose some ships and learn from your mistakes."
This just doesn't sit right with me.
It surely isn't the part about learning from mistakes. It's that you may not learn how to pick your fights from the start and how to engage on your own terms. "Go lose ships" sounds like you don't need to bother much about gathering intel, keeping an eye on your surroundings or to be brief: staying alive.
A rookie of two months flying a Rifter won't learn much from engaging my own Rifter. He can do everything right and will lose his ship regardless. It's likely that he does make a few mistakes, but none of them will ultimately affect the outcome.
The one mistake that cost him his ship may completely elude him. "Well, I guess I should've loaded Barrage instead." - no, you could've run from the guy with 30 times your experience, had you monitored local and bothered to check his combat record or even security status and corporation (besides, choice of ammo is not rarely a gamble in Rifter duels).
Pilots who go into combat without weighing the odds sufficiently lack survival skill. I don't see the benefit in neglecting that skill from your first day in low sec. Sure, losing a Rifter isn't a big deal; but when you move up to bigger and more expensive ships, you'll either keep dying needlessly or will have a hard time improving your chances of survival.
And instead of working on a whole set of stunted skills later on, more than a few pilots might instead start relying on a second source of income, dedicated scouts and/or other supporting ships. Or, like, Dramiels; those are pretty good and can always run away, right? Riiight.
So my advice boils down to this: Go kill some ships and stay alive. Avoid that veteran's frigate and move on. A few jumps ahead you might find a badly flown destroyer and get to score a kill. Fair chance you'll make mistakes doing so. Oh hey, you avoided dying, killed something and still got to identify some flaws - win, win, win.
Losing is a bad strategy, son. I hope this was helpful.