This brings back memories
Many professional photographers are up most willing to lend a hand since most of them start from scratch like us. I now work for AFSI (see the link below) as a graphic artist, photographer, handyman, you name it. I started out as an intern (non-paid) and learned some tricks went on some shoots, scan some film slides, etc. Over time as you build a relationship with the staff you are given more chances to shine! It also gives you some sort of credentials, I worked for him one whole summer and now my "resume" is a bit stronger.
Another important aspect is to build a strong portfolio. I can't emphasize how important this is, make sure you take extra time to make it look it's best (not to mention yourself). When the time comes ask him/her for a appointment. Then it's all up to you.
I hope this helps and good luck!
Assistant News Photojournalist
Nikon and Canon Systems
A variety of f/2.8 lenses from 10.5 to 400mm