You could work towards your CCNP, but I suggest getting practical hands on experience before you go for the CCNP. Unfortunately, there aren’t many companies that are going to take the risk and let you play around with their production networks with just a CCNA. It’s typically more of a prerequisite like having a degree than a certification of experience.
However, you might want to get a part-time job or volunteer to work at a college IT department so that you can get the experience. Hopefully, they have a laboratory network that you could cut your teeth on so that you’re not dropping the campus LAN because of an improperly configured ACL. They also might have dial-up access, wired and wireless network, Layer 3 switches, and Routers throughout the campus to broaden your knowledge.
If this isn’t possible, you might try working the off shift at an ISP or 24×7 LAN shop. Either way, you’re probably not going to be dedicated to working on switches and routers only. Expect to be asked about your knowledge of client software/hardware, server software/hardware, network troubleshooting, cabling, and kitchen sinks (because they would throw in maintenance along with IT support if they could).
I’m interested in seeing what other people put as recommendations as well. This is not the only way to get the experience so I hope to get a better perspective of what they have done to gain knowledge and prove their worth.