Thank you for your replies : ) !
The sangha (drikung kagyu) I'm practicing with says it is not necessary to undertake ngondro initially (which I assume is 'assigned' by the lama) since it can be off putting for many beginners. Therefore, it is okay to begin practice with certain "simpler" sadhanas without the empowerment, direct lama, or ngondro.
As it is already been stated, the Vajrayana tradition seems to place heavy emphasis on lineage and student/teacher relationship. In your experience what was it like finding a Lama? Are they seeking students themselves? Are they accessible?
In the meantime thanks for the replies and I will continue studying the foundations of Mahayana, classical Tibetan, and meditation and sadhana practices. Much love and deep bows to all forumers : )
My limited understanding is that Lamas do not seek students. There are hilarious examples of those that visit my Lama asking who their root guru is with him giving various replies for their understanding and support. They go to seek their root guru and some time later (from days to years) they recognize him as theirs! There is always room for a sincere, devoted practitioner so don't be shy about seeking out a Lama that you resonate with.
Whenever you decide that Vajrayana is for you and that you will commit to devoted practice, then, imho, seek out your Lama immediately if you haven't done so already. Then you would receive lineage and empowerments from the Lama and not the Sangha...