I heartily recommend a reading of Tim Keller's advice for those aspiring to ministry: The Country Parson.
In short, he recommends trying to pastor as a solo pastor of a small, rural church.
His rationale includes limitations of experience gained as a mentored member of a pastoral staff in a larger church.
"You can't teach a younger pastor much about things they aren't actually doing. And in a large church they aren't a) bearing the burden of being the main leader, b) leading a board of elders, c) fund-raising and bearing the final responsibility of having enough money to do ministry, d) and doing the gamut of counseling, shepherding, teaching, preaching."
Conversely, when you're the only pastor ...
"In a smaller church as a solo pastor you and only you visit the elderly, do all the weddings and funerals, sit by the bedside of every dying parishioner, do all the marriage counseling, suspend and excommunicate, work with musicians, craft and lead worship, speak at every men's retreat, women's retreat, and youth retreat, write all the Bible studies and often Sunday School curriculum, train all the small group leaders, speak at the nursing home, work with your diaconate as they try to help families out of poverty, evangelize and welcome new visitors to the church, train volunteers to do some (but not all) of all of the above tasks, and deal with the once-a-month relational or financial crisis in the church. No amount of mentoring can teach you what you learn from doing all those things."
I may be rather biased, since my first pastorate was as the solo pastor in what was a rural church at the time. The experience was invaluable, though I found it to be a lonely experience as well.
I wondered at times about the alternative, serving on a larger staff. Yet, I avoided doing my seminary pastoral internship in such a church because I wanted to do more than carry around some associate pastor's clipboard ... uh ... not that there's anything wrong with that.
I'd be curious as to (1) your thoughts on Keller's article and (2) your reflections on your early pastoral experiences, the good, the bad, and the ugly.