These days, it's quite common that people with some PHP experience but without Drupal experience get on the Drupal bandwagon, often hired by some company or as a freelancer. If the next step is that you begin to work for some gig for a client then you and the client will both suffer. A very good and beneficial way to get acquainted with Drupal is core bugfixing. There are always bugs that are trivial to the experienced and can be solved by a newcomer if he puts himself to the task really. Come to our IRC channel (irc.freenode.net, #drupal) and you will get pointers to such bugs -- last week when I thought this out, I found two within one minute -- and help if you get stuck. To put it another way, when I asked the channel about this, one of the most serious contributors said: "It is generally the policy of people in the channel to lavish help upon those who are actively contributing".
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In a brief conversation with the founder of one of those "Drupal Rockstars" companies, I was told that their hiring/recruiting consisted largely of following the commit logs of Drupal core and trying to see who was writing lots of patches and hire those people.
heh ... "he".
If you think I exclude females from this then you obviously missed the webchick express train :)