In the past I remember reading about bugs like this that rendered certain missions impossible to complete. Those specific bugs were fixed long ago, but there will always be bugs here and there. When what you’re doing seems broken or impossible to figure out, you gotta go online and see what the community is saying about it. Sometimes it really is a bug you need to work around, but more often it’s just that you weren’t aware of quite what you’re supposed to do.
It’s a general thing with Elite. Online research or talking with friends/community is essential. You can’t expect to figure everything out all by yourself. The game has tutorials and starter missions, and you absolutely should use them, but that in-game teaching will never catch up to the massive amount of stuff you need to know to be able to function in the game.
Probably going to go more of a transport/ hauler role to start out and save up money. Any tips to that effect?
I suggest pick a “home” station to work from. Missions from there will lead outwards to other systems. Fulfill those missions, data courier and hauling missions to start with, but return to your home system afterwards. Take missions in both directions if you can, to make better use of your time.
Doing it this way will build your reputation with the local factions. Then they’ll offer you better, more lucrative missions, once they trust you more. When I started out, I wandered randomly, taking whatever opportunities sounded good. Doing that, you end up getting the same kinda low-wage jobs everywhere.