All this data is potentially out of date, and should be taken with a truckload of salt
So you've completed the tutorials, found your way to the super-compendium-of-knowledge known as evelopedia and read the New Player Experience guide and you feel like you've gotten at least a basic handle on the how basic day-to-day life in Eve works.
So now what?
Unlike other MMOs, Eve doesn't streamline you into a specific role, or class. At any time you can decide to try something else, perform a different function, and try something completely new. One of the most commonly heard quotes in the chat channels of Eve sounds something like this: Template:Quote
Unlike other MMOs, Eve does not present you with a specific goal when you begin playing such as reaching a 'level cap' or 'reaching the end game' etc. It is up to you to decide what your personal driving force is in Eve. Knowledge? Political Power? Fame? Fortune?
Money is the driving force behind Eve. Money truly is power. To fly the best ships you need money. To equip the best modules for those ships you need money. To buy the services of transport ships, or mercenaries you need money. To fuel a war machine you need money. ISK is the axis that the Eve universe spins upon, and true security comes from having that ISK.
There are a number of different ways to make ISK, missioning, mining, trading, manufacturing, deadspace running, pirating, merc work and ratting are some of the methods for accumulating cash. The key thing, is to find something that you enjoy doing. This is your life as a pod pilot, and experimenting with different things and finding what you enjoy is the key, because any and all of these routes are viable methods of money making.
When you first begin your life in Eve you'll start off with a basic ship and somewhere around 50K ISK. Perhaps your first goal for money making would be something obtainable with enough hard work, like 1 Million ISK. From there, the industrial types will continue to raise that mark with zeros until the elusive first billion is made: at which point you truly are an entrepreneur.
Outside the comfortable cluster of stars known as Empire Space lies Low Security or Low Sec, where valuables in the form of NPC Pirates and rich ore belts lie in wait for adventourous pilots. Pirates roam these areas looking for unwary pilots to prey on. Beyond Low Sec is 0.0 or Null Sec. Here is where the political struggle for power and control takes place, driven by the greed of Alliances and their Corporations for ISK among fame, reknown and power.
Sovereignty of these outer stars are given to the players that control each system, but this control didn't come lightly. In 0.0 space, riches populate every asteriod belt waiting to be collected by those who've claimed them.
Many players consider 0.0 the final frontier of the Eve Online universe, while others refuse to have anything to do with it, aside from turning a profit on supplies to fuel those constant wars between neighboring Corporations and Alliances.
It is in those outer reaches where the true struggle for power takes place.
Many pilots simply want to be well known. Will you make a name for yourself? Unlike other MMOs that are split up into many separate servers, Eve takes place on one single server where a quarter of a million people across the globe cooperate or contend with each other. And fame, or notoriety, is not uncommon.
Every violent action you take is recorded, and is normally posted to corporation or the battleclinic kill boards making a living record of a pilots combat exploitations. Some pilots who act as mercinaries or pirates fly daily with trail of fear and respect behind them.
Corporations and Alliances also are a good source of Fame. Large Alliances such as BoB and Goonswarm are practically household names for most pod pilots. Joining, or creating a notable corporation or alliance is also another source of status, and fame.