How to improve my C++ with open source projects

Hello,

I am studying Computer Systems and Networks engineering at London South Bank University.
I know a bit about object oriented programming languages like PHP, Java and about C++... and indeed would like to improve my knowledge of C++.
But my knowledge is more from books. I have no experience on real projects.
I was thinking in getting programming experience with open source projects.
Do you think that is a good idea?
I have just downloaded Microsoft Visual C++ (express) but I quite don't know where to start and am finding it difficult to use sites like Sourceforge or Google code to find C++ projects. Is there anyway, for instance, to filter my searches to find only projects done in C++ ??

I find it easy to go through code in a book but managing a project seems a pain.
Do you know of any books or sites that help with managing a project, apart from dealing with the language itself.

I think I need a kick-start to help me start gaining experience. I would love to work as a programmer and C++ seems a good choice.
Hope you can help me.


Many thanks!

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