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These articles were prepared for the
December 11, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Part-Time Job: Big-Time Perks
How does this sound: A 16-day cruise from Miami to South
America for $420. Or maybe a four-day cruise to the Bahamas, for $50.
In either case that would work out to maybe 25 to 50 percent of the
cost of staying home and eating fast food.
"This is what just came on my fax," says Marie Gallagher,
owner of IT Travel at Research Park. "I’m looking at it now."
The deals are for travel agents, and there is a wonderful wrinkle.
Part-time travel agents — even those working two hours a week,
or less — can pack and go right along with full-time agents. In
fact, given the fact that they are not tied to a desk, the part-timers
often take advantage of far more of these deep-discount, last minute
trips, says Gallagher.
In the it-just-keeps-getting-better department, Gallagher says
anyone can become a part-time travel agent. She gives a seminar laying
out how to do just that on Thursday, December 12, at 6:30 p.m. at
her offices at 1 Airport Place in Research Park. There is no charge,
but call 609-921-6300 for reservations.
"I ran these seminars before, years ago," says Gallagher.
"I got 20 outside agents." She explains that an outside agent
is an individual who develops his own customer base and is in complete
charge of his own schedule. Most outside agents run into the agency
to grab brochures and are quickly on their way.
The job of outside agent is not a road to riches in most cases, and,
in fact, is not something to count on when the mortgage comes due.
A part-timer can expect to make between $10,000 and $25,000 a year,
says Gallagher. "And part time," she adds, "can mean
two hours a week or 20 hours a week."
Outside agents do not make their money on plane tickets, but rather
by selling cruises, tours, vacation packages, group travel, and
travel such as golf trips. "Someone who belongs to a country club
and has lots of friends? Perfect," says Gallagher. "Someone
in a retirement community? Perfect."
Retired people, with their business savvy and networks of friends,
many of whom may well have the time and money to travel, can be ideal
outside agents. But, really, Gallagher emphasizes, anyone is a
One of her outside agents was employed full-time. While she couldn’t
take advantage of as many trips as could her retired counterparts,
she did have a big pool of potential customers in her co-workers.
Stay-at-home moms like the flexibility of the job, says Gallagher,
and teachers often find it ideal. "They’re off at 4 p.m., and
they have summers off," she says of the latter group. They also
enjoy a cohort of co-workers whose extended vacations make them good
As far as training goes, Gallagher says research is the main job
Travel agents need to know how to find the best tours at the best
prices. She provides training disks, and is willing to give in-house
lessons to give serious, highly-motivated candidates a good start.
Beyond that, most training is supplied at brunch, lunch, dinner, and
cruise information seminars given by airlines, cruise lines, tour
operators, hotel chains, and travel destinations.
Outside travel agents are eligible for the deep-discount trips after
one year, but, says Gallagher, this requirement can be shortened
— often to about three months — with a letter from a manager.
At that point, the outside agent is issued an IATAN card, which
him as an accredited travel agent and serves as the magic key to
vacations at more-than-affordable prices.
Gallagher says the opportunities to take these trips, which often
are offered only at the last minute, are limitless. As a preferred
travel agent, a designation earned through volume and through
with a network of travel agents, she receives these offers all the
In a clear case of it-only-happens-to-the-other-guy,
small businesses say their biggest computer headache is the damage
wrought by viruses downloaded from E-mails. "Lots of people are
getting viruses," says Alicia Clay, whose job at the National
Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) involves teaching
how to avoid computer problems. "It’s by far our biggest
Clay speaks on "Computer Security is Good Business" on
December 12, at 8:30 a.m. at a seminar at Raritan Valley Community
College’s Small Business Development Center. Call 908-526-1200, ext.
Clay says awareness of computer security is a little better than it
once was. People don’t often tape their passwords to their monitors
anymore, she gives as a for instance. Still, a lot of needless angst
— not to mention high-price-tag damage — enters offices
their ubiquitous computers.
A look at NIST’s website (www.nist.org) is a window into the
dimensions of the problem. NIST is a federal technology agency
in 1901. With a mission to help companies of all sizes to develop
and use new technologies, NIST also maintains laboratories in
Maryland, and in Boulder, Colorado, to research better ways to measure
basic quantities like length, time, and temperature, and to develop
standards and test methods.
Through more than 400 not-for-profit centers nationwide, NIST links
small manufacturers with a network of manufacturing and business
The agency, through its Advanced Technology Program (ATP), also
the gap between research and the marketplace by sharing early-stage
research costs for new technologies. Companies conceive, co-fund,
and execute ATP projects in partnership with academe, other research
groups, and federal labs.
Among NIST’s many programs is the one on computer security. A quick
run down its menu conjures all sorts of computer horrors. The focus
appears to be on thwarting hackers. There is lots of material on
a cryptographic standards toolkit, and an automated security
tool. There are also authorization management and advanced access
control models, information on mobile computing security, and a Smart
Card security section.
Through a link on the security menu, anyone can plug the names of
their software programs into NIST’s ICAT metabase. Under a banner
showing an alert grey cat and a fearless-looking white mouse, there
is a plug-in menu that gives all the known risk factors for software.
Type in the name of a program and find the ways in which it can be
hacked, whether the type of damage than could result.
All of this up-to-the-minute techno-information comes from an agency
that got its start when urgent messages were sent by telegraph, not
by E-mail. Now that communication via the Internet is instantaneous,
global, and available to virtually everyone in every office, small
businesses need to be aware, says Clay, that the computers on their
desks can be the innocent-looking gateway to all manner of havoc.
Here are some of her suggestions for cutting the risk.
can save your files, your hard drives, and your good name. Hackers
are roaming free in a wilderness with absolutely no borders. Once
into your system, they can store their files on your server, corrupt
your data, wreck your hardware, gain control of your address books,
and even send out obscene E-mails that will look like they came from
small businesses are, it is easy to feel virtuous about buying and
installing anti-virus software. It is also easy to then forget all
about it. But, says Clay, it is vital to keep adding the latest
One businessman with whom she recently spoke updates his anti-virus
software every single day. His business is entirely on the Internet,
she explains, making a high degree of caution a necessity. Another
business, she says, might update only once a week, or even once a
know that he is to be extremely careful about opening attachments.
There are levels of care that an employer might decide to mandate,
says Clay. Some bosses issue edicts forbidding downloads from any
unknown person. But this is not foolproof. "Hackers are getting
smarter," says Clay. It is now common for them to create subject
lines strongly suggesting that they do know their targets, something
like "John, here is the information you requested." To guard
against this sort of ruse, some employers tell their workers to
only files that they are expecting. It is possible to go another step
down the road to protection, she adds, by installing software that
automatically blocks all E-mail containing executable attachments.
Internet connections employees are often wired all of the time.
just because you can be online all the time, you don’t have to
says Clay. In fact, she suggests unplugging when not actively surfing.
The reason? "Leaving the computer on all the time is like leaving
a window open," she explains. There are hackers roaming the vast
neighborhood that is cyberspace looking for a way into computers.
An open Internet connection is an easy way in.
taped to monitors anymore, but Clay finds they often are written down
and placed near the computer. Choose a complex password — not
your new baby’s name — and do not store it near the computer.
As a further protection, do not sign on to the computer and then leave
for a three-hour meeting, followed by lunch. Use a pass-protected
screen saver, Clay advises, and turn it on when you step away from
seeking a little help from a subordinate on a project to just fork
over a password rather than transfer the file in which the needed
information is found. Let loose at a higher security level than he
usually enjoys, the underling may well have fun reading performance
reviews or checking what his office mates earn — and then
about same at the water cooler.
all well and good to advise storing passwords away from the computer,
with the number of passwords the average information worker needs
to navigate through the day, it is oh-so-tempting to keep them all
close at hand — and in plain sight. A solution, says Clay, is
a fingerprint identification system. "Prices have dropped,"
she says. "You can now get one for less than $100." The
ID technology can be set up not only to get a computer user logged
on to the main system, but also to "memorize" all of his
This means he can cruise through his day, switching from database
to database without ever having to remember and type in all of his
all things computer related to one person. What happens if he quits?
asks Clay. Or worse, what if he needs to be fired? It is prudent,
she suggests, to have at least one other person trained to take over,
and to have pre-set procedures for locking either one of them out
of the system.
by prior planning. Back-up files regularly, for example, and a
break-in will not do much damage. Likewise, using encryption
will lessen the harm done by any theft of sensitive material. Being
hacked or compromised by an employee is no fun, but, says Clay,
doesn’t have to be the end of the world."
Roland Pott of Trenton Works and Conduit and John
Harmon of the Metropolitan Trenton African American Chamber of
Commerce are among the 35 fellows of the Leadership Trenton charter
class to be recognized at the Lafayette Yard Marriott Conference Hotel
on Thursday, December 12.
Leadership Trenton is a collaboration of Thomas Edison State college,
the John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy, and the Partnership
for New Jersey. A statewide program, it stages monthly seminars on
public policy issues that are critical to the state.
The Watson Institute was established by Thomas Edison State College
in 1996 as a center for community partnerships to serve communities
in the state. It offers applied research, technical assistance,
development, outreach, and other assistance.
"The information and experience acquired by our charter class
exemplifies the importance of investing in leadership
says William A. Watson, executive director of the John S. Watson
Institute for Public Policy.
This year’s Leadership Trenton class has 41 people. Among them are
June Ballinger, director of Passage Theater; John D. S. Hatch
of the architectural firm of Clarke Caton Hintz; Jon Nelson,
director of mental health services at Capital Health; and Peter
C. Wise, director of the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen.
"The graduates of Leadership Trenton will do extraordinary things
with their initiative, talent, and drive to make Trenton a better
place to live and work," says George A. Pruitt, president
of Thomas Edison State College.
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