Hey all, this game seems really awesome, and I'd love to get started, but I don't want to screw myself up right from the beginning because i don't really know what to do. So far all I've done is create my character and nothing else. The first week guide says to join a group, but I don't know anything about any groups, or how they will affect me. I literally don't know what to do about anything right now lol, any help would be largely appreciated, thanks!
A group is basically just a job; they'll give you something to do and pay you for it, and provide you with a ship to use. It's also the best way to start meeting people here, and most people do ultimately stick around for the community, so it can be the most important as well as the most fun aspect of SWC.
You don't need to worry about it at all. If you join a group and end up not liking it, you can definitely leave and try a different one; you won't be penalized (although some factions may not take a liking to you joining their mortal enemy, so if you try out the Empire, you probably shouldn't defect to the New Republic, for example).
Just take a look at the complete faction listing on your right menu and read about the groups that interest you, visit their websites, look at their forums, or whatnot. That is probably a good place to start.