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I met John through his parents, who are good friends of mine. For a high school student, his passion for and grasp of econometrics were so impressive that I _____ my econometrics research project that started last year.

I am looking for a neutral expression to be filled in the blank. My intended meaning is hiring someone not because of that person's ability but because of a social connection.

Here John was a high school student. The writer was a professor. Part of the reason the professor brought John into his research project is that the professor and John's parents were good friends.

I was thinking about "took him on in" and "brought him into". But I am not sure.

  • But did you actually pay him? If so, you still did hire him, regardless of the reason behind it. However, suggesting that you didn't hire someone on merit, but because of social connections, implies nepotism. So, what you're looking for is somewhat unclear. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Jun 29 at 17:03
  • I am looking for a neutral phrase reflecting nepotism. – luxury20041985 Jun 29 at 21:29
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From a clarifying comment under the question:

I am looking for a neutral phrase reflecting nepotism.

There are very few expressions that could be used in this sense, since nepotism, and its synonyms, are all mostly value-laden—and in a negative sense.

However, you might be able to get a way with a form of network:

[Merriam-Webster]
noun
5 : a usually informally interconnected group or association of persons (such as friends or professional colleagues)
// a support network available to single mothers
// a network of bird watchers

intransitive verb
: to engage in networking

Therefore, in the sense of work, and making use of connections, you could say:

I met John through his parents, who are good friends of mine. For a high school student, his passion for and basic grasp of econometrics were sufficient enough for me to network him into my econometrics research project that started last year.

Note that I have altered this slightly to downplay the role of his talents—which take away from the fact that the primary reason you involved him was because his connection to people you knew.

  • This is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks. – luxury20041985 Jun 29 at 22:31
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I would say:

"...that I brought him onto my econometrics research project that started last year."

This most definitely neutral, but it does not imply whether it was because of ability or social connections.

Summary:

In my opinion, I would not worry about indicating that this person is being hired or brought onto a project for social connections. If you need to indicate that I would rephrase it to something like:

I brought him onto my econometrics project last year because he has many social connections.

or more informally:

I brought him onto last year's econometrics project because of his connections.

Let me know if this works.

  • Thanks for your help. I was wondering if there is any difference between "bring into" and "bring onto". – luxury20041985 Jun 29 at 21:26
  • I think of it like ships. I would bring someone onto a ship, I would not bring them into a ship. However I would bring them into my cabin. If it is an island, ship, pitch/playing field, something you stand on, then I would use onto. Into would be for a house or cave or something similar. If it has a roof, you would go into it. – Pierce Devol Jul 1 at 18:32
  • Otherwise it is difficult with more figurative phrases. A project is like a ship in the sense that you bring someone onto a project. – Pierce Devol Jul 1 at 18:34
  • Thanks for your clarifications. :) – luxury20041985 Jul 2 at 6:09

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