Most employers will require candidates to have US references, some will even prefer candidates with local references, so what can students due if they do not have work/study options?
Many non-profit organizations are looking for long-term volunteers to help them with various administrative and technical tasks. This is a great way to build professional relationships and get exposure to US work market. A professional reference does not necessarily need to be someone who paid you, they should be someone who knows your work, skills, abilities and work ethic. What a great way to prove yourself while helping your community.
Check out volunteer matching websites, local non-profit organizations, ask your school if they are affiliated with any organizations and get connected during this holiday season.